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Men’s basketball clinches fifth seed in postseason
February 29, 2016Tweet
Sophomore forward Willie Rodriguez scored a team-high 24 points and Binghamton men’s basketball (8-21, 5-11 America East) shot 52 percent in the second half to roll to a 78-66 win over visiting Maine (8-21, 4-12 AE) in the regular season finale for both teams Feb. 27 at Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center.
The win, Binghamton’s third in its last five games, allowed them to snare the No. 5 seed for the upcoming America East tournament - the program’s highest seed since its championship run in 2009. The Bearcats will play a quarterfinal game on March 2 at No. 4 New Hampshire.
“It was a program win today,” head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “We have good chemistry on this team and we’ve grinded through some tough times this season. It was important for us to win today because it allowed us to climb in the standings and gives us a bit of a wind in our sails as we head into postseason. Now we’ll get ready for whoever it will be on Wednesday.”
Binghamton’s defense held the Black Bears 10 points under their season scoring average and a 20-8 early second-half run created a cushion Binghamton didn’t relinquish.
Junior guard Marlon Beck drilled 4-of-6 three-pointers, including two in a 51-second span to start the big run. Beck, who ranks second in the conference in threes per game (2.5), hit three in a 3:05 span and then Rodriguez took over. The second-year forward threw home a big jam off a feed from freshman guard Timmy Rose to give Binghamton a 52-39 lead with 13:51 left and then Rodriguez blocked a shot on the defensive end. Less than a minute later, sophomore center Bobby Ahearn hit a baseline jumper and the Bearcats had a 15-point lead.
Maine used a 17-7 run to cut its deficit to nine with 3:42 left but after a steal and feed from junior forward John Rinaldi (6 pts., 3 assists), Rodriguez promptly drilled a three from the top of the key to restore Binghamton’s double-digit margin.
Rodriguez hit 10-of-17 and added nine rebounds and two blocks in 35 minutes. Beck chipped in 14 points and three steals and Ahearn reached double figures for the third straight game with 10 points. Rose wound up with nine points and four assists.