Coming off a home-opening blowout win over Keystone, the Binghamton men’s basketball team’s momentum followed them to Baltimore, Maryland as it secured a 63-57 win over Loyola on Wednesday night. The Bearcats would rely on crucial plays from their big men throughout the contest, outscoring the Greyhounds 40-16 in the paint, which allowed them to seal the game in the second half.
“I’m just really proud of the staff and proud of our guys,” said Binghamton associate head coach Brian Johnson. “We were real warriors, and it was really a program win. We haven’t beaten [Loyola] in a couple of years, so to come to Baltimore and get a win, we should be really proud of what we did tonight.”
Senior guard Armon Harried wasted no time getting BU (2-2) on the board, driving in a layup in the paint while drawing a foul in the process for the and-one to give the visitors a 3-0 over Loyola (1-2). BU would go on a controlling opening run from there with strong finishes in the paint, including graduate student guard Symir Torrence corralling a missed three-pointer at the rim that he would convert into a layup to make it 6-0. The opening Bearcat run came to an end with senior forward Tariq Balogun outmuscling a Greyhound and knocking down a turnaround jumper to build a 10-0 lead.
“We talked about scoring baskets in the paint, and we did that,” Johnson said. “To shoot 42 percent for the game, we scored 20 points in the paint in the first half … it is definitely a recipe for success for us.”
Strong playmaking around the rim would keep BU out in front, with Harried generating a sequence off of a block where he took the ball downcourt and set up an easy layup for senior forward Nehemiah Benson to build a 16-6 cushion. After Binghamton built their lead to 20-11, the Greyhounds would start to run the board with efficient free throws to get within three points. However, not long after, Torrence breaking past a double team in the glass to finish for a layup to put Binghamton back up 22-17. A pull-up jumper from graduate student guard Dan Petcash made it 26 points for Binghamton, as BU led with the score at 26-22 going into halftime.
The first point of the second half came from a Torrence free throw to make it 27-22, but back-and-forth offense from both ends soon cut BU’s lead down to one. Then, a pair of Greyhound free throws gave them their first lead at 33-32. However, this lead was short-lived as Balogun quickly tipped in a layup for BU to retake the lead at 34-33. From there, Binghamton’s duo of — Balogun and junior guard Tymu Chenery — controlled the paint to once more build a BU lead. Balogun would then punctuate a 41-36 advantage by knocking down a jumper over a Greyhound defender in the paint.
“It’s really just [Balogun’s] mindset,” Johnson said. “He could be the most dominant player on the basketball court and we saw that tonight. For him, he believes he underperformed in the last few games so he really wanted to come out here and really show what he is capable of.”
Halfway through the second period, Binghamton built its lead to 49-42. However, the Bearcats’ foul trouble brought Loyola to the line as their lead dwindled to two. A game-tying dunk from Loyola was swatted away by Balogun, allowing Torrence to get a jumper in from mid-range on BU’s next sequence to make it 51-47. Chenery then found freshman forward Gavin Walsh waiting at the three-point line, as he drained a three-pointer to make it 56-50. The Bearcats held off Loyola from there, with three free throws from Chenery in the closing minute of the game cementing a 63-57 win.
“We didn’t panic,” Johnson said. “When you have an experienced point guard like [Torrence] to run the show, obviously as coaches it makes our jobs a lot easier… They made a run and we talked about, ‘OK, they’re gonna make a run now. We just have [to] execute even better offensively to get the right shot, to get the best shot that we can get.’”
Balogun spearheaded the BU offense with a 16-point, four-board and two-block performance. Chenery was right behind him, adding 14 points and going 5-for-7 from the free-throw line to help secure Binghamton’s victory. The Bearcats held their ground defensively as well, forcing 13 Greyhound turnovers and holding Loyola to just a 33.3 percent field goal percentage in the win.
BU will return home to take on Marist on Saturday, Nov. 18. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. at the Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.