After losing a tight 72-61 battle against Northwestern, the Binghamton men’s basketball team traveled to the University of Pittsburgh looking to earn its first win of the season. However, after a contested first half, Pitt pulled away in the second half and didn’t look back, as the Bearcats dropped the matchup 89-60. The Bearcats’ inability to match Pitt’s rebounding and shooting allowed the Panthers to separate themselves and gain a double-digit lead in the second half to earn the win.
“We have to finish,” said Binghamton associate head coach Brian Johnson, filling in for Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders on Friday. “We had some good layups that we missed. We have to come down and focus a little bit more.”
Graduate student guard Symir Torrence started things off for BU (0-2) with a three-pointer for the first score of the game. Pitt (2-0) responded with a 10-2 run due to the onset of Binghamton’s rebounding woes. In one possession during that span, the Panthers secured four offensive rebounds and drew a foul to get to the line. At the same time, Binghamton entered foul trouble early during the Panthers’ run, committing four fouls in the game’s first six minutes.
“[Pitt] hurt us obviously in the offensive rebounds,” Johnson said. “They had entirely too many in the first half. By them getting offensive rebounds, we had to foul … They shot too many free throws in the first half … That was an emphasis for [Pitt], to get extra possessions.”
Eventually, Torrence drained another three-pointer to end Pitt’s scoring streak, cutting the Panthers’ lead to four with the score at 12-8. In the Bearcats’ next possession, senior forward Nehemiah Benson knocked down a mid-range jumper assisted by sophomore guard Chris Walker. The Panthers quickly answered BU’s baskets by going on an 8-0 to go up 18-10. Later in the period, a 9-0 run from the Panthers gave them a 30-18 advantage. With just under six minutes left in the half, BU chipped away at the lead to stay in striking distance with the score at 40-32 in Pitt’s favor going into halftime.
“We definitely took some good shots,” Johnson said. “But [Pitt does] a really good job using their length and athleticism to contest every shot.”
Pitt opened the second half with another scoring run of eight straight points to take a 48-32 lead. Benson got BU on the board in the second half after draining another jumper, assisted by junior guard Tymu Chenery. Not long after, Pittsburgh native graduate student guard Dan Petcash knocked down a pair of free throws for the Bearcats to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 14. This is the closest Binghamton managed to get for the rest of the way. Despite BU’s best effort to stay in the game, Pitt kept the momentum the rest of the way. The Panthers outscored the Bearcats 49-28 in the second period, as they cruised to a 89-60 win.
The Bearcats’ deficit was due to their poor shooting performance and continued struggling in the rebounding department in the second half. BU was scorching hot from the three-point line in the first half shooting over 46 percent. In the second half, Binghamton shot just over 28 percent from the field and two of 12 from three-point range. Meanwhile, BU was also out-rebounded by Pitt, 50 to 32, ending the game with a -18 differential on the glass.
“[We have] to be able to execute,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to play two halves … We showed that we could compete with anybody for a half … Moving forward, we’ve got to be able to duplicate the first-half performance and take it up another notch in the second half.”
Freshman guard Evan Ashe led the way on offense for the Bearcats with 15 points off the bench, knocking down three shots from beyond the arc. Torrence finished his night with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists and a team-high 29 minutes played. Meanwhile, Benson added eight points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
“[Ashe] came in and gave us a spark off the bench,” Johnson said. “I’m very, very pleased with his performance tonight … For him to show up and play the way he did, we, as a staff, are super excited about him.”
Binghamton played its home opener against Keystone College on Sunday, Nov. 12. Tipoff was at 6:07 p.m. at the Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.