The Binghamton men’s basketball team snapped its three-game losing streak and earned its first conference win, defeating Albany Monday night. The win improved BU’s record to 1-3 in the America East Conference and 10-9 overall.
“I’m really proud of my group, more so than anything,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “Not only for the win, but just how they’ve handled the last week and a half or whatever it was that we got off to the slow start in the league. The tough loss to Maine, getting blown out on the road at Hartford. I’m just proud of our overall togetherness, because without that … I don’t think we would have got that done tonight. I’m more pleased with just the overall approach that the guys had, and the belief that they had about their abilities to get it done tonight and hopefully that’ll be something that we can build on moving forward now that we have a monkey off our back.”
The night began with several empty trips from both teams. This was ended emphatically by a dunk from junior forward Thomas Bruce via an assist from junior guard J.C. Show. Albany responded quickly with two points of its own from graduate forward Travis Charles. Six quick points from BU put them comfortably in the lead just a few minutes into play, but the Great Danes rallied to briefly take control of the game with several efficient offensive sets. The teams then traded points up until the half, at which point Albany held a slight edge, 29-28.
The second half featured a newly energized Bearcat team. A 3-pointer from Show shortly following the break set the tone for a half which was mostly dominated by BU as it scored 50 points. Senior forward Willie Rodriguez was one of the key proponents of this run as he finished the game with 20 points, a majority of which came during critical moments down the stretch.
“We [were] just going out there and playing,” Rodriguez said. “Having fun. We were talking about having fun out there, and obviously you’re not having fun when you’re losing. So when you gotta lead, you just gotta sometimes let it fly.”
With just over two minutes left, however, Albany began to rally with two free throws from junior forward Devonte Campbell. With under a minute remaining, the edge was trimmed to seven points. Despite the Great Danes’ offensive flurry, Binghamton iced the game with eight made free throws in the contest’s final minute.
“I knew it was gonna come down to free throws,” Dempsey said. “The math tells you that they’re gonna have to start fouling. And you’re gonna have to make free throws. I was pretty calm, and tried to help them stay calm because I knew that we were just a couple of possessions away from it being … free throws to decide it.”
The Bearcats demonstrated efficient shot selection, ending the evening with a 46.2 field goal percentage. They also captured the battle on the boards, pulling down 35 rebounds to Albany’s 32.
This victory comes following a 32-point defeat during Binghamton’s previous outing against the Hartford on the road.
“[Our resilience] doesn’t tell me much because I already know,” Dempsey said. “I’m with these guys every day, I know that we care about each other, I know that we’re about the right things, I know that we work hard and we’re together. So, it maybe validates it … it’s not about sending a message to anybody except ourselves. That we get locked in, we play well, we can beat anybody in the league. We’ve felt that, we’ve talked about it, but we haven’t proven it. And tonight we had a little taste of it.”
The Bearcats will next take on Stony Brook University. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Island Federal Credit Union Arena in Stony Brook, New York.