West Hartford, CT (WBNG Binghamton)
Junior guard Jimmy Gray scored eight points in overtime, including three free throws in the final 19 seconds to lift ninth-seeded Binghamton (2-29) to a 73-67 overtime win over eighth-seeded UMBC (4-26) in the first round of the America East Championship Thursday night from Hartford’s Chase Arena. The win advances the Bearcats to Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they will meet top-seeded Stony Brook at 12:05 p.m. It marks the second straight year that Binghamton has posted a win in the postseason.
After watching an 11-point lead evaporate in the final eight minutes of regulation, BU had to hang on with one final defensive stand to force overtime. Freshman forward Ben Dickinson, who led all scorers with 21 points, held his ground on a final UMBC drive to the basket with three seconds left and a last-second Retrievers tip attempt was off the mark.
In overtime, UMBC took its last lead on a three-pointer with 3:30 left, 63-62. But Dickinson’s second effort on a tip-in with 2:59 left started a 7-0 run and gave BU a 64-63 lead. Classmate Jabrille Williams had a putback of his own with 2:00 remaining and Dickinson followed with a driving layup with 1:22 left that gave the Bearcats a 69-63 lead.
UMBC scored four straight to pull within three, 70-67, but freshman forward Omar Richards hit 1-of-2 free throws with 0:37 left and Gray added his three foul shots in the final 19 seconds to close out th4e scoring. Binghamton’s defense limited UMBC to one field goal over the final 3:29.
“This was a great game and a very good win against a team that had beaten us twice during the regular season,” head coach Mark Macon said. “We locked down on defense in the second half and overtime and got some key buckets. It was a team effort and we covered our game plan really well.”
Williams provided a huge spark off the bench in the second half. He scored seven straight points for BU during a 9-2 run midway through the period that gave the Bearcats a 55-44 cushion with 7:56 left.
Dickinson hit 8-of-20 from the floor and added team highs of nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Gray wound up with 14 points and five rebounds and Williams and fellow freshman Chris Longoria chipped in 11 points apiece.
The Bearcats shook off a slow start in which they missed seven of their first nine shots to open the game. Dickinson (10 pts.) and Longoria (9 pts.) steered BU to 50 percent shooting after the initial start (10-of-20 FG) and a 9-0 run late in the half helped the Bearcats grab a 31-30 edge at intermission.
Dickinson scored five straight points, rifled back-to-back passes down low for assists and recorded a block on the defensive end – all in a four-minute span late in the half as Binghamton erased a 23-17 deficit. Junior forward Javon Ralling then took a charge with 1.2 seconds left on a Retrievers’ layup attempt to preserve the slim lead. Dickinson added five rebounds and four assists to his point total and Longoria, who earned a second straight start with the injury to leading scorer Robert Mansell, chipped in three assists.