Coming off a road trip that included two losses against power five teams in Northwestern and Pitt, the Binghamton men’s basketball team secured its first win of the year in its home opener, defeating Keystone 104-50. BU took charge in the paint and dominated Keystone in the first half while maintaining its lead in the second half to secure a 54-point victory.
“I think it was a great opportunity for us to come out in front of our fans and put on a good product,” said Binghamton associate head coach Brian Johnson. “Obviously to get our first win of the year is something that we’re extremely excited about. [We were] able to get pretty much everybody playing time and double-digit minutes. So excited for what’s next and hopefully we can build off this win going into [the game against Loyola University Maryland].”
After Keystone knocked down a jump shot to kick off the scoring, senior guard Armon Harried drew a foul in the paint that he converted into two points from the line to make it 2-2. BU’s offense continued to build momentum when graduate student guard Symir Torrence tipped in a layup, off the rebound of a missed three-pointer from graduate student guard Dan Petcash, to put BU up 4-2. Binghamton continued to separate themselves from there, with Torrence faking out a Keystone defender to move the ball down the court where it ended up in Petcash’s hands, as he sunk in a three-pointer and gave BU a 11-5 advantage.
“One of the things [Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders] preaches is respecting our opponent,” Johnson said. “So it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. Whether it’s an ACC, Big 10 opponent, we want to make sure that we’re as physical as we possibly can, and if it’s a division three opponent we still want to bring that physicality.”
After the first media timeout, freshman guard Evan Ashe came in to make some big plays for BU which included getting the ball to senior forward Tariq Balogun who drove it downcourt for a quick two. Not long after, Ashe scooped in a layup of his own to make it 21-12 for BU. Ashe would go 6-7 from the field in the half to solidify BU’s lead, including a sequence where he took a defensive board to the rim for a slam dunk to put BU up 40-18. Outside of Ashe’s perimeter play, in the first half, BU outscored Keystone by 26 in the paint with 21 defensive boards to establish control. The score would grow to 59-22 for Binghamton at the half after Harried tipped his own rebound in the closing seconds.
“[Ashe] is somebody that we’re extremely excited about,” Johnson said. “Him playing the last two games, you’ve seen his versatility not just from the offensive end but also on the defensive end. But for him to come out here and still bring that same energy and intensity and to make some highlight plays where he’s driving down the sideline, dunking the basketball shows you what he can be. It’s a product of his work.”
Harried picked up right where he left off to open the second half by taking the ball to the basket for a quick layup to make it 61-22, before jetting down the court a few minutes later to deny a dunk by Keystone. The plays would keep coming when Torrence lobbed the ball up to Harried for an alley-oop to make it 72-38. The Bearcats’ second unit took control from there, cementing a 104-50 win.
Ashe led the way for BU with 19 points in 26 minutes while shooting 7-10 from the field. Behind him was sophomore guard Chris Walker who put up 15 points with seven boards, while Harried filled the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“The one thing that we were excited about as a staff is seeing our guys on the bench cheering for each other,” Johnson said. “We played our starters the first four minutes, but then they were the loudest guys on the bench throughout the rest of the game. So we’re building that team chemistry, that camaraderie, and I think these guys are really connected and gelling where it’s going to help us much down the line as we continue to grow.”
The Bearcats will hit the road once again for a matchup against Loyola University Maryland on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Reitz Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.