The Binghamton men’s basketball team entered its game against Maine on a five-game losing streak. That streak was extended to six in a close 81-79 overtime loss to the Black Bears (6-19, 3-7 America East) on Saturday afternoon.
Even with two late opportunities in overtime to catapult BU (10-15, 1-9 AE) over the Black Bears, sophomore guard Fard Muhammad first had his shot blocked and then, after an offensive rebound, hit back iron on a triple as the buzzer sounded.
Although Binghamton trailed for much of the second quarter, it never faced a considerable deficit in either half. BU found itself down two points in the match’s first 20 minutes despite shooting just 15 percent from downtown and 35 percent from the field. The largest scoring differential was a 10-point advantage held by the Black Bears in the second half.
In addition to the poor shooting percentages, BU struggled to guard Maine redshirt sophomore guard Isaiah White. He posted 16 points on six-of-nine shooting from the field, including four field goals from behind the arc in the first half alone. The Black Bears’ efficient 3-point shooting was also of concern for the Bearcats, as they allowed 55 percent of treys and displayed weakness in guarding the perimeter.
Trimming the opponent’s 3-point percentage to a more respectable 43 percent, BU put itself in a better position to mount a comeback. Coupled with improved defense, junior guard J.C. Show and Muhammad began to torch the Black Bears offensively. Show logged 12 points while Muhammad, who did not miss a shot from downtown or the field in the second half, recorded 14 points.
With BU down 69-67, it was neither Show nor Muhammad who was the hero for Binghamton. Cashing in on a game-tying putback layup, junior forward Thomas Bruce kept the contest alive. The extra opportunity marked two of the 21 second-chance points BU scored and capped off the 8-2 Binghamton run in the final 2 1/2 minutes of regulation.
Despite Bruce’s heroics to force overtime, the team struggled from the field as it missed nine of 11 shots. In comparison, the Black Bears converted two field goals and seven of eight free throws.
After the Bearcats forced a rare five-second violation and captured the game’s final possession, White rejected Muhammad’s first 3-point attempt while his second attempt, via a dish off an offensive rebound by Show, was off the mark. The misfired attempts further solidified Binghamton’s last-place AE standing, handing them a 1-9 record.
“Our guys played really hard,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “I can’t say enough about our kids’ effort.”
The defeat marked BU’s ninth loss in conference play and its sixth consecutive loss. With six matches remaining in the regular season schedule, playoff hopes for Binghamton are certainly dwindling. Even though the team possessed a slight edge in rebounding and bench points on Saturday, the Bearcats did not record a single fast-break point and chucked a school-record 40 3-pointers, making only 13.
Hoping to secure its first victory since Martin Luther King Jr. Day, BU is set to return to the court against UMBC on Thursday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Events Center in Vestal, New York.