Durham, NH (WBNG Binghamton) Sophomore guard Jordan Reed made a free throw with 1.5 seconds remaining in overtime to lift visiting Binghamton (6-19, 3-9 AE) to a 72-71 win over New Hampshire (6-18, 4-7 AE) Wednesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium.
With the score knotted at 71-71, Reed drove to the basket but missed his initial layup attempt in heavy traffic. He grabbed the offensive rebound, however and was fouled going back up. After missing his first free throw attempt, Reed got the second one to drop for the winning margin.
Freshman guard Marlon Beck II forced overtime with three clutch free throws with 4.6 seconds left in regulation. Down 62-59 with 24 seconds left, BU misfired on a three bid but got the rebound and Beck was fouled attempting a three from the top of the key. He swished the first attempt and then after a Wildcats’ timeout, sank two more. Beck was shooting 57 percent from the line entering the game.
In overtime, Beck continued his hot hand by drilling a three-pointer from the left corner with 56 seconds left – a shot that gave BU a 69-68 lead. On the previous possession, sophomore guard Karon Waller provided a huge defensive play when he rotated to the paint and stole the ball under the basket to regain possession with 1:04 left. Then senior center Roland Brown provided a second-straight crucial defensive play. He stuffed 6-foot-10 UNH center Chris Belcher on a drive to the basket and corralled the rebound. On the other end, Beck then made two more free throws with 31 seconds left to give the Bearcats a 71-68 lead. New Hampshire tied the game for the final time with a deep three with 18 seconds left, setting the stage for Reed’s game-winning free throw.
“That’s a happy locker room,” head coach Tommy Dempsey said afterwards. “It’s not about your percentages but when you make them,” he said in reference to Beck’s trio of clutch free throws. “Marlon has struggled from the line but to knock them down was gutsy and then to make the big three in overtime … he made some really big shots. Our freshmen are ‘big moment’ guys.
Dempsey also talked about the strategy on the final possession.
“You get it to your guy and give him space to play,” he said. “It’s really hard to stop Jordan without fouling him. He did a nice job getting to the line and then making that shot. But our other guys stepped up too. People will talk about the free throws but a lot of little things add up to a one-point win. Roland played very well when he was in there. He had the big block at the end. Karon had a rotation in the zone and grabbed a critical steal. It was a team effort.”
Beck wound up with a team-high 17 points and Reed had 16 points, six rebounds, six steals and three assists. Brown and Waller had nine points apiece and senior center Alex Ogundadegbe chipped in eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
The big finish allowed BU to overcome a sluggish second half (9-of-34 FG, 27%). The Wildcats used an 18-4 run to rally from 11 points down to claim the lead. But the Bearcats kept up their defensive pressure all game long, forcing 20 UNH turnovers to create 20 more shot attempts. The game featured six ties and eight lead changes.
The Bearcats were sharp to start the game, hitting 5-of-8 and taking an early 9-3 lead thanks to five points from senior center Roland Brown and four from Reed. The teams then traded 9-0 runs as UNH’s Jordon Bronner got hot with 5-of-5 long-range shooting and the hosts forged ahead 22-15 before the Bearcats responded. Waller started BU’s run with a three-point play and Reed added a layup and two free throws. Freshman forward Magnus Richards then swished in back-to-back mid-range jumpers, the last of which gave BU a 30-28 lead. After UNH scored five straight, Waller ended the half with two three-pointers in the final 1:01. He drilled the last one as the shot clock expired and 2.5 seconds remained in the half, giving the Bearcats a 36-33 margin at intermission.
Binghamton has one week off before hosting longtime SUNY rival Albany next Wednesday.
(Courtesy: Binghamton University Athletics)