The Binghamton men’s basketball team finished its most successful season in 12 years and earned a trip to the America East (AE) conference semifinals. In his first season with the Bearcats, junior guard Jacob Falko led the team in scoring, assists and minutes per game, earning him a first team all-conference selection.

Having led BU to its most successful season in over a decade, Falko has been named Pipe Dream’s 2021-22 Male Athlete of the Year.

“That’s a huge honor,” Falko said. “Had a great year here, had a fun time. It’s really cool to get that.”

Binghamton completed its first full season since the COVID-19 pandemic and posted a 12-17 overall record while going 8-10 in conference play. This matched the most conference wins in program history since the 2009-10 season.

“We had to be more of a competitive team,” Falko said. “Last year they were always talking about [how] they weren’t playing meaningful games, but this year we were fighting for seeding, trying to make it into the playoffs … So the games we were playing were more meaningful than last year.”

In Binghamton’s quarterfinal matchup against New Hampshire, Falko tallied 21 points and five assists while making four 3-pointers. This performance allowed BU to take a narrow 72-69 victory over the three-seeded Wildcats. The Bearcat scored 20 or more points in six games this season, more than any player in the conference. He was also selected to the first team all-conference and is the first Bearcat to receive that recognition in 12 years.

“That playoff game against New Hampshire, winning that one was huge,” Falko said. “I think that was the first [playoff] game [Binghamton] has won in a while … Winning first team all-conference was [also] a huge accomplishment for me.”

Binghamton was ultimately defeated by Vermont in the playoff semifinal game. Falko had 13 points in the 74-42 defeat to the eventual AE champions. Due to the team’s success this season, expectations for the program will be set much higher than before. The rising senior hopes to capture a conference title and make the March Madness tournament. He also hopes to be awarded the AE Player of the Year title.

“The main goal is to win the conference tournament,” Falko said. “Win the regular season and then win the tournament and make it to March Madness. I think that’s our goal … For me individually, I want to get player of the year.”

Next season, the team will look much different. Eight players are looking to transfer from BU with some already having committed elsewhere. Despite this mass exodus of players, the Bearcats have been actively recruiting and have brought two new transfers to the program. Recently, Canisius sophomore guard Armon Harried and Eastern Kentucky sophomore forward Tariq Balogun have both committed to Binghamton, per Verbal Commits. Falko said he was excited to play with the new talent that has been added.

“I’m super excited about the big man we just signed [Balogun],” Falko said. “He’s a transfer from Eastern Kentucky, he looks really good … And then the other wing we just got, transferred from Canisius, [Harried]. I’m really excited to play with him … I think he’s gonna help us a lot.”

Going into next year, Falko and the Bearcats will look to build off of their success and improve. The rising senior attributed much of his success from this past season to his teammates, who rekindled his love for basketball.

“I love my teammates this year,” Falko said. “I had a really fun time just playing with them. Last year when I was at Gardner-Webb, I kind of lost my love for the game during that whole season. So to come here and have coaches who really bonded with me and allowed me to play so freely … It was just a really fun season for me and I really enjoyed playing basketball this year, again. I’m just looking forward to next season and just having another great time.”