The Binghamton men’s basketball team found the extra gear necessary to pull out a win against Maine on Sunday. The Bearcats’ 65-54 win over the Black Bears (5-18, 1-7 America East) was their third consecutive victory, helping BU (12-11, 3-5 AE) rebound from a frigid start to conference play that featured five straight losses.
Down the stretch, sophomore guard Timmy Rose and junior forward Willie Rodriguez found their respective strokes to put the game out of Maine’s reach. Both teams struggled to score for a majority of the game, with neither team shooting more than a 42 percent clip from the field.
“It was a grind out there today,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “It didn’t make for the prettiest game, but from our standpoint I felt we played hard, competed, and did what we needed to do to get a road win.”
The game featured a sluggish offensive start for both Binghamton and Maine, as both teams were held to fewer than 10 points for nearly the first 11 minutes of the game. Many shots were contested, and few players were able to find a groove early. BU led 27-24 at the break. The Bearcats’ play down low was a source of frequent fouls and turnovers, contributing to the team’s inability to pull away from the struggling Black Bears.
“Neither team found a great rhythm offensively,” Dempsey said. “Our bigs didn’t have particularly good games.”
After combining for 13 of the team’s first-half points, Rose and Rodriguez became the focal points to finish the game. With the score knotted at 37 with 13:12 remaining, the tandem poured in 11 points to put the game out of reach. Rose tallied a career-high 20 points and Rodriguez scored his 1,000th career point early in the second half, becoming the first Bearcat in 15 years to reach the milestone in his junior year.
Additionally, senior guard Marlon Beck drained his 200th career 3-pointer, which sealed Binghamton’s victory. But other than marking a milestone from the 3-point line, Beck struggled against the Black Bears. He tallied just four points, one of which came from the free-throw line. Beck shot just 1-for-6 from the field, all of which came from 3-point range.
“Both teams were playing very competitively on the defensive end,” Dempsey said. “We were fortunate to win today.”
Against Maine, the Bearcats’ defense was suffocating. Despite BU’s attempts to slow down Maine guard junior Wes Myers, he led the Black Bears with an efficient 22 points — going 9-for-12 from the field. The rest of Maine’s offense, however, combined to shoot just 27.5 percent from the field.
Binghamton’s perimeter defense dominated the Black Bears, holding Maine to just 4-for-20 from beyond the arc. The Bearcats sealed the game in the paint with an emphatic block from sophomore forward Thomas Bruce late in the second half. The victory marked the first time BU has won three straight conference games since the 2010-11 season.
Binghamton is set to continue AE play against UMBC on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.