With just over four minutes remaining, junior forward Bobby Ahearn looked up with disappointment, then shook his head. What had been the Binghamton men’s basketball team’s 13-point lead floundered, then disappeared. Back-to-back 3-pointers from junior guard Bryan Sekunda gave the Seawolves (10-9, 5-1 America East) a three-point lead on Sunday afternoon.
Reeling with frustration, Ahearn delivered a hard foul to Stony Brook junior guard Roland Nyama late in the second half. The subsequent free throws stretched Stony Brook’s lead to five. Late in the second half, the Bearcats (10-11, 1-5 AE) seemed to be marching toward another narrow loss.
But instead of allowing the Seawolves to run away with the game, BU began to make shots. In the game’s closing minutes, BU and Stony Brook sparred for control. Trailing by just one point with 20 seconds remaining, sophomore guard Timmy Rose nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to secure the Bearcats’ first conference victory, 71-67.
“I told my guys, ‘You win with toughness in this conference,’ and I thought we showed great toughness today,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “Our guys protected the rim well, kept them off the glass … that was key.”
Ahearn tallied 21 points, including four free throws and nine from beyond the arc. His offensive rebound off his own free-throw attempt led to Rose’s game-winning three.
“As soon as I released the second one I was like, ‘Oh no,’” Ahearn said. “But I guessed which side it was going on, and I got lucky. We’ve been going through a bit of a tough time over the past five games trying to find a win. We got ourselves really pumped up at halftime to come out strong, and I thought it was a great team win altogether.”
Senior guard Lucas Woodhouse led Stony Brook with 15 points and six rebounds, going 5-for-9 from the field. He was followed closely by redshirt sophomore guard Akwasi Yeboah, who tallied 14 points.
Against Stony Brook, BU shot 49.1 percent from the field. The Seawolves hit 47.1 percent, including 42.3 percent from 3-point range.
“We were desperate for a win for sure,” Dempsey said. “You’ve got to play like that everyday, and we played like that today.”
Junior guard Yosef Yacob played his first game at full strength since suffering a concussion last month. He sat out four of five games before playing eight minutes in BU’s loss to Albany last Thursday. With a 48.4 percent clip from beyond the arc, Yacob ranks second in the AE in 3-point field goal percentage.
“All year he’s shot the ball so well,” Dempsey said. “[His return] gives us another weapon on the perimeter. It also allows us to rest Timmy [Rose] who we relied on so much at the point with Yosef out.”
Going into its game against Binghamton, Stony Brook had won 22 of its last 24 AE games. The Bearcats’ win demonstrated a step forward after their early on in-conference play. The victory also snapped Binghamton’s 14-game losing streak against Stony Brook. This was Binghamton’s first victory over the Seawolves with Dempsey at the helm.
“We know we’re better than our record says,” Rose said. “We go into every game like we can win, and hopefully it’s contagious.”
Binghamton is set to continue conference play against Hartford on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.