This Thursday and Saturday, the Binghamton men’s basketball team took on Stony Brook and UMass Lowell, respectively. The match against the Seawolves (11-17, 6-8 America East) ended in a 69-57 win at home, snapping BU’s prior seven-game losing streak, while Sunday’s game against the River Hawks ended in a 74-69 loss.
The Bearcats (11-17, 2-11 AE) took an early 14-4 edge. The Seawolves, however, were not to be taken down so easily. Scoring three after three, the team rallied in an attempt to tie. The score was brought to within one numerous times before a made free throw from Stony Brook junior guard Jaron Cornish finally tied the game at 23. Two 3-pointers from BU sophomore guard Fard Muhammad and junior guard J.C. Show were enough for the Bearcats to take back control of the scoreboard, for the time being.
With less than a minute on the clock, Cornish hit a three to seemingly take Stony Brook back into the game, bringing the score to within three points. After a missed dunk from junior forward Thomas Bruce, and then a missed three at the other end of the court, the Bearcats decided to hold for one. With just seconds remaining in the first half, Show passed to Muhammad, who sank a triple, increasing the Bearcats’ lead to six points. At the half, the score was 32-26.
The second half initially featured several of offensive executions from the Bearcats. While the Seawolves were able to bring the score to within four points, a 9-2 stretch sparked by another 3-pointer from Muhammad was enough to force the game out of reach. Stony Brook and BU each put together impressive offensive efforts to close out the half, but the deficit became insurmountable as both teams piled on the points.
“My teammates were just finding me,” Muhammad said. “I think our intensity was just opening things up for everybody. When it came to me I just played my role, I knocked down shots and helped us win.”
Led by Muhammad’s 22 points, including five-of-eight shooting from beyond the arc, Binghamton was able to come out with the lead comfortably.
“I was proud of our guys,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “I think you learn a lot of life lessons from sports, and one of the things that I keep talking to these guys about is your heart’s gotta stay in it regardless of the results, and you have to find purpose and passion in your performances, and you have to keep believing. If you lose faith and you lose hope, then you have no chance. I saw a group that played with a lot of passion, with a lot of purpose tonight, and stayed together all year long. It was nice to see our guys rewarded with a good victory here at home, because they’ve been fighting their way through a struggle.”
Sunday’s game at UMass Lowell (10-16, 4-9 AE) saw a tightly contested first half, featuring numerous runs from both teams. A layup from Muhammad tied the game at nine with just over six minutes played. Following this, a 9-2 run from the River Hawks fueled by a basket inside from redshirt sophomore forward Connor Bennett handed the team to a sizable seven-point lead. With just over three minutes in the half, a jumper from Muhammad paved the way for BU to embark on a 7-0 run, capped off with a long ball from Muhammad. At the end of the stretch, the scoreboard read 30-27 in favor of UML.
Both teams came out strong to begin the second half. The score remained close for the first several minutes of the half, but a scoring onslaught from the River Hawks took the team to a 14-point advantage with just under two minutes on the clock. Not willing to go down without a fight, the Bearcats displayed a ferocious energy, tacking on 17 points during these final minutes. The River Hawks, however, scored just enough points to still come away with the win, defeating BU by five points.
“I thought we just fought really hard right to the end,” Dempsey said. “There was a stretch where we just decided that we weren’t finding enough in our offense, and we had to get four guards out there, spread the court and attack … and I think that as we continue to move forward with this roster, we’ll see a lot more of that … I think when you’re having a tough year, you’re looking for a positive down the stretch, and that was a group that, when down the stretch, will all be back. I liked the way they looked and I was proud that there was no give in them, and no quit, and we fought for 40 minutes.”
The Bearcats will next take on the Vermont Wednesday, Feb. 21. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. from Patrick Gymnasium in Burlington, Vermont.