It’s inevitable that at the beginning of a season it may take some time for teams to find their grooves. The Binghamton University men’s basketball team just happened to find it 20 minutes too late.
Holding off a second-half BU surge, visiting Colgate University handed Binghamton a season-opening loss on Saturday night at the Events Center, 78-74. The Bearcats then went on to drop their second game in three nights when they were defeated on the road by Cornell University on Monday, 76-61.
Though Binghamton (0-2) came out of the halftime break firing on all cylinders to double its first-half production, 39 second-half points from Colgate proved to be just enough to keep BU at bay.
Binghamton freshman forward Ben Dickinson led all scorers with 27 points while sophomore guard Robert Mansell came back from a lackluster first half to finish with 24. Mike Venezia added 22 for Colgate (1-0).
“It was a tough one, we got beat by a better team,” Binghamton head coach Mark Macon said. “Colgate was a better, more savvy team and they played two halves. We played a great second half of basketball, [but] we didn’t play a great first half.”
Though both teams traded advantages through the opening five minutes, Colgate took a first-half lead that ballooned to as much as 13.
The Bearcats whittled it down to nine just before halftime, but Colgate senior Sterling Melville hit a 3-point buzzer-beater prior to halftime to take a 39-27 lead.
Foul trouble for sophomore starters Alex Ogundadegbe and Mansell limited their play in the first half. Ogundadegbe played just six minutes while Mansell was forced to sit for all but eight. Among all team scorers, the two were the low men for the half with two and three points, respectively.
But Mansell said he didn’t feel that he played as big of a part in the team’s struggles as Binghamton’s inability to capitalize did.
“You can’t really blame it on the foul trouble,” he said. “More so it’s the missed layups and missed opportunities.”
Colgate pushed its lead to as much as 18 in the early minutes of the second half, but in a three-minute span, the Bearcats scored eight unanswered to cut the Red Raider lead down to 47-37.
Though Colgate managed to push the lead back to 13, a furious Binghamton rally late pulled the game back within reach at 73-68 with 1:30 left.
At the heart of that rally were Mansell’s 21 and Dickinson’s 18 second-half points.
“That was big,” junior guard Jimmy Gray said. “Both of them came through and played hard. It’s better because the defense has to react to not only one person, but two. And it was hard for them to focus in on both of them.”
Though Binghamton cut the deficit to as little as four, Colgate’s made free throws down the stretch sealed the game with a final score of 74-78.
“We played a good second half,” Macon said. “It just wasn’t good enough.”
Saturday’s attendance at the Events Center was announced at an opening night record of 4,760 and Dickinson’s 27 points set a freshman record for the program. He was named America East Rookie of the Week yesterday for his efforts.
“He understands how to play,” Macon said. “The thing that I talked about before we walked out was ‘act like you’ve already been there,’ and he has. This is what he does; he understands how to play the basketball game and he takes what’s given to him … But whether he scores 20 for us or four, he’s going to do other things that make us better.”
Though one of Binghamton’s new additions excelled on the floor Saturday night, one was unable to participate in the team’s home and season opener. While his teammates participated in pregame warmups, freshman guard Storm Clonch was in street clothes, with a walking boot on his left leg.
Macon was unable to give a definite answer regarding Clonch’s injury in a post-game press conference on Saturday, but speculated that it was a high ankle sprain and did not have a timetable for his return. He did, however, say that Clonch would be in the boot for “a week or so.”
Binghamton began a four-game road trip last night as the team headed to Ithaca last night to take on Cornell. Cornell led by just two at the break, but ran away with the game in the second half and dealt the Bearcats their second loss of the season, 76-61.
The road trip continues at 7 p.m. Friday when Binghamton is set to take on Fordham University.