VESTAL (WBNG BINGHAMTON) Visiting Loyola closed the game with a 14-4 run and the Greyhounds (1-0) used a pair of blocked layups in the final 2:06 to squeak past Binghamton (0-1) 79-74 in the season-opener for both teams Friday in front of 4,318 at the Events Center.
Binghamton trailed 77-74 but had the final possession to tie. Coming out of a timeout with 0:28 left, BU looked to get to the rim but Loyola stiffened in the middle, forcing the Bearcats out on the perimeter with 12 seconds left. Junior guard Robert Mansell had the ball with time winding down and after shot-faking, he put up a three-point attempt that dropped off the left side of the rim with seven seconds left. Loyola grabbed the rebound and made two free throws with two seconds left to seal the win.
“I thought we played well so it was a tough loss,” head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “Loyola is a good team with a lot of weapons. We executed well but just didn’t get enough stops on the defensive end.”
In an unexpectedly tight game between two teams separated by 20 wins a year ago, the much-improved Bearcats led for much of the second half and held a 70-65 cushion with 5:05 left before Loyola rallied. Senior Dylon Cormier scored nine of his game-high 31 points in the final 4:19 - while his jersey #3 counterpart, Jordan Reed was sent to the bench with his fifth foul. Reed pumped in a team-high 23 points with nine rebounds before being issued his fourth and fifth fouls in a 1:06 span late in the game. The Bearcats were whistled for 23 fouls which allowed Loyola to shoot 29 free throws - 17 in the decisive second half. It was the first time in 29 collegiate games that Reed fouled out.
“It’s tough having your best player sitting next to you on the bench in the final four minutes,” Dempsey said. “You don’t see that very often.”
Binghamton’s freshman class, three of whom started, accounted for 41 points. Six-foot-9 forward Nick Madray was outstanding in his collegiate debut with 22 points in 27 minutes of action. Madray hit 8-of-10 shots, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and made two clutch free throws with 0:59 left that brought BU to within one, 75-74.
First-year guard Yosef Yacob gave BU its third player in double figures with 11 points (3-of-5 three-pointers). Yacob and classmate Marlon Beck II drilled three-pointers in a 26-second span to turn a one-point Loyola lead into a five-point BU lead with 5:05 left. But Cormier led the Greyhounds’ charge with a three-pointer, free throw and then a key halfcourt steal off an offensive inbounds lob and Cormier’s subsequent fast break layup gave Loyola a 72-70 lead with 3:07 left. Mansell tied it with 2:44 to play on a layup but Loyola’s Jared Jones (22 pts., 7 rebs., 4 blocks) registered two rejections in a 17-second span to keep BU at bay. Four three throws in the final 31 seconds were enough offense for the visitors to hang on.
Mansell and Beck added eight points apiece.
The Bearcats got off to a quick start, scoring the game’s first seven points and building a 17-8 lead 6:26 into the contest. Madray scored the opening bucket on a jumper and he and Reed (7 pts.) combined for 12 points during the initial run. Loyola closed the gap and then took a six-point lead, 37-31, with 1:30 to play before halftime. But Beck made two free throws and sank a three-pointer to pull BU to within one, 37-36, at intermission.
Led by Cormier, who scored 21 points in the second half, Loyola shot 54% over the final 20 minutes.
After missing 21 free throws in its exhibition win over Bloomsburg, BU converted 15-of-16 from the foul line on Friday, led by Reed’s 8-for-9 showing.
The Bearcats will board the team bus Saturday morning for the five-hour drive to Providence, Rhode Island in advance of Sunday afternoon’s 3:30 p.m. game at Brown.
(Courtesy: Binghamton University Athletics)