Coming off a decisive 69-57 home win against UAlbany, the Binghamton men’s basketball team fell to Bryant 70-69 on Saturday afternoon at the Events Center. The Bearcats started off strong, maintaining the lead for the entirety of the first half and entering halftime up five points. However, the Bulldogs gained momentum in the second half to capture a one point victory.
“I think we came out, [and] we played hard,” said Binghamton head coach Levell Sanders. “I thought we played well enough to win. My main concern today was if we were going to be able to score enough points.”
Binghamton [11-12, 3-7 America East (AE)] opened the game with a 6-0 run which started with senior forward Tariq Balogun knocking down two free throws. Then, junior forward Nehemiah Benson made a layup in transition to cap off BU’s run. Bryant (16-9, 8-2 AE) eventually responded with a jump shot to make it 6-2. BU continued to maintain its lead as a three-pointer from junior guard Tymu Chenery made it 13-5.
Nearly midway though the period, after a scuffle that resulted in technical fouls assessed to both teams, freshman forward Gavin Walsh canned an outside three to make it 18-7 Bearcats. However, Bryant stayed within striking distance, stringing together a 6-0 run with four minutes to go to make it a 24-21 game. After some back and forth, Walsh drained a jump shot to give BU a 30-25 lead going into halftime.
“The message at halftime was we know they are going to come out and be more aggressive,” Sanders said. “So we need to come out and match that aggressiveness.”
Bryant opened the second half with a 12-2 run to take its first lead of the game at 37-32. The Bulldogs continued to stay hot, draining baskets to stay ahead of the Bearcats. Chenery matched the energy and sunk another baseline three to make it a two-point game around the halfway point of the second period as BU trailed 43-41.
“I think a lot of times, what teams do is they come out and jack up threes and miss, and then all of a sudden, the game goes from three to four to seven of eight, ” Sanders said. “We wanted to keep getting two-pointers and then put some pressure on them to make free throws.”
The rest of the game went back and forth as the Bearcats stayed in the game. In the final minute, Chenery made it a one possession game twice with two layups, but Bryant was able to knock down its free throws to extend it to a two possession game both times. Down four with the game clock winding down, Petcash sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was too little, too late as Binghamton fell 70-69. Ultimately, Bryant shot 61 percent from the field in the second half and made 7-of-8 free throws in the closing 30 seconds to hold off BU.
“It’s a game of two halves,” Sanders said. “If you are up in the first half, you can’t be satisfied, and if you are down in the first half, you have to be motivated to turn the tide. I thought we were not as aggressive as we needed to be in the second half.”
In the losing effort, Chenery led BU with 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Petcash recorded his second-straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebound while Walsh tallied 13 points and 12 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double. Binghamton struggled to take care of the ball, with 17 turnovers in comparison to Bryant’s nine.
“[Walsh] played well,” Sanders said. “He is a talented guy, but I think all freshmen have to understand that they have to earn what they have to do to be on the court.”
The Bearcats will look to bounce back in AE play against UMBC on Thursday, Feb. 15. Tipoff is set for 6:07 p.m. at the Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.