After being defeated by UMBC 89-78 on its home floor, the Binghamton men’s basketball team bounced back on Saturday afternoon for its fourth America East (AE) win by defeating NJIT 69-55 in Newark, New Jersey, completing the season sweep of the Highlanders. With both teams going neck to neck in the first few minutes, the Bearcats ultimately pulled away with its strong presence in the paint, outscoring NJIT 38-16 in the paint en route to a comfortable 14-point victory.

“For us, every win is important,” said Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders. “For the most part, we did a really good job of sticking to what we needed to do and being committed to what we needed to do … we were able to come out with a much needed win.”

NJIT (7-17, 3-9 AE) got the scoring started with a three-pointer, but Binghamton (12-13, 4-8 AE) responded after senior guard Armon Harried found senior forward Nehemiah Benson inside to make it 3-2. After another three-pointer from NJIT, a hook shot from senior forward Tariq Balogun and two free throws from Harried knotted things at six. Both teams traded baskets as BU held a 12-11 advantage nearly 10 minutes in.

“You have to look to be who you are as a team and not try to be another team,” Sanders said. “I thought that we definitely controlled the pace … when we were trying to execute, we were trying to use [Balogun] inside to create offense for us.”

After the midway point of the first half, the Bearcats’ offense stayed hot, with graduate student guard Dan Petcash knocking down a corner three and Harried slamming one in not long after as BU extended its lead to seven at 20-13. Binghamton then went up by as much as eight courtesy of baskets from junior guard Tymu Chenery and Balogun. However, the tides began to turn as the Highlanders responded with a 6-0 run to cut the BU lead to 30-28. Petcash capped off the first half with a jump shot to give the Bearcats a 32-28 lead going into halftime.

“[Harried is] a super athlete, and he needs to use his athleticism to get out of transition, to get easy baskets [and] to rebound the ball,” Sanders said. “He makes us a much better team when he is being who he is … getting out and running and defending.”

Petcash and Chenery got on the board early in the second half, making it a 6-0 Bearcat run stemming from the end of the first half, to go up by 10 points at 38-28. After the Highlanders stopped the bleeding, BU’s offense stayed hot as graduate student guard Symir Torrence lobbed one to Chenery to extend the lead back to 10. Both teams exchanged baskets as BU held onto a 46-36 advantage.

“When we do the things that we need to do defensively and offensively we are a really good team,” Sanders said. “It was just the commitment to doing the things we needed to do. Sometimes those things are tough, and you need multiple efforts, and I thought we had that tonight.”

With just over 10 minutes remaining, Petcash drained a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down to make it 49-38. NJIT came back with a three-ball of its own but as the Highlanders looked to crawl back, Binghamton drew fouls in the paint to keep the momentum. The Bearcats sustained a comfortable lead, shutting down any potential NJIT runs with made shots of their own. BU sealed the game from the free throw line to secure a 69-55 victory.

“I want to see us really be committed to being Binghamton and playing Binghamton style of basketball,” Sanders said. “I told the guys, we can do that. Consistently. We can finish this stretch in a good manner.”

In Torrence’s return from injury, he tallied eight assists and eight rebounds. Sanders had high praise for the graduate student guard, acknowledging how he adds a whole different element to the Bearcats’ offense with his pass-first mentality and leadership on the court.

“[Torrence] had eight assists and it really highlights his voice,” Sanders said. “[Torrence] was really aggressive with his voice. He was talking. He was leading … It was definitely great having him back and again having him back moves everybody back to their natural positions which is good for us.”

Binghamton will enter its final stretch of AE play and take on UMass Lowell on Thursday, Feb. 22. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Costello Athletic Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.