The Binghamton men’s basketball team dropped a close game against New Hampshire after allowing a 16-4 run late in the second half on Saturday afternoon. A go-ahead shot with 22 seconds left sunk the Bearcats (10-13, 1-7 America East) in a 57-52 loss to the Wildcats (9-13, 5-3 AE).
“I thought we played with great intensity and great emotion,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “We had our chances and we just didn’t make our plays right there at the end.”
The Wildcats took initial control of the game, scoring a 3-pointer just over two minutes into the first half. Redshirt freshman guard Tyler Stewart was quick to respond with a shot from beyond the arc for Binghamton, but just seconds later, UNH netted another 3-pointer.
“[Stewart] is tough, he’s a good player,” Dempsey said. “He’s going to have a great career. He’s young, he’s still learning, but he’s wired the right way. He’s aggressive, he believes in himself and he made some plays.”
The remainder of the half featured both teams fighting to take control of the lead. Binghamton remained in control of the game for the majority of the half, but the Wildcats were never far behind. With just 3 1/2 minutes left in the half, they managed to take the lead, and although the Bearcats gained the advantage once again thanks to a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Fard Muhammad and a made free throw from junior guard Everson Davis, the half ended at 28-25, in favor of UNH.
With the score close, the crowd remained hopeful as the second half got underway. Just a minute into play, the Bearcats were able to tie the score at 28 on a layup from Davis. Even as the team earned the tie, however, Dempsey’s nerves were evident as he perched anxiously on the sidelines, watching the team like a hawk.
The two teams remained in close play, taking turns controlling the edge, until BU went on a five-point run that gave it a 40-35 lead over the Wildcats. This failed to last, however, and within a few minutes UNH was able to grab hold of the advantage once again.
With five minutes left in the second half, the Bearcats possessed their largest lead of the game, up seven points on the Wildcats. The crowd was cheering loudly and the match looked like it might go in favor of BU. Undeterred, UNH slowly began to catch up to the Bearcats until the game was tied, 50-50, with just 1:42 left of play.
The Wildcats earned two foul shots and sunk both, putting the game at 52-50 with 1:12 on the clock. Binghamton tied it up with a layup from Stewart, and UNH took possession of the ball. The players took their time near the hoop, slowly running down the clock. With 22 seconds remaining, UNH junior guard Jordan Reed nailed a 3-pointer, pushing the score to 55-52.
On BU’s subsequent possession, the team forced the ball to the other end of the court. Junior guard J.C. Show rose for a 3-pointer with hopes of tying up the game, but his luck ran short as the clock ran down. He missed the shot, and with an additional two free throws netted on the Wildcats side, UNH took the game, 57-52.
Despite the defeat, the Bearcats are still going to continue to fight for a spot in the postseason AE Tournament.
“I just tell [my team] that we gotta keep fighting,” said senior forward Willie Rodriguez. “Things are going to go our way soon. I know we’re struggling right now, but no one can say that we’re not playing hard and giving it all.”
The Bearcats are next set to face Vermont, the top seed in the AE Conference and the reigning AE champions, on Wednesday from the Events Center in Vestal, New York. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.