VESTAL (WBNG BINGHAMTON) Sophomore guard Jordan Reed poured in 30 points and 14 rebounds and Binghamton men’s basketball (7-22, 4-12 America East) pushed first-place Vermont (21-9, 15-1 AE) to overtime in a 92-82 loss in the regular-season finale for both teams Sunday afternoon at the Events Center.
The Bearcats will now carry the No. 6 seed into the conference tournament and will face third-seeded Hartford in the final quarterfinal game on Saturday in Albany. Start time is approximately 8:30 p.m. at SEFCU Arena.
Reed reached the 30-point scoring mark for the second straight game and BU nearly pulled off another home upset of the Catamounts. A rimmed-out three-bid from freshman guard Yosef Yacob (22 pts.) with 58 seconds left in regulation kept the door open for the visitors, who came from six down in the final 2:09 of regulation to force overtime. There, Vermont took advantage after Reed fouled out on a call away from the ball. The Catamounts made 12-of-13 foul shots in the final 4:20 and outscored BU 16-6 to ice the win.
“I’m excited about where we are right now,” head coach Tommy Dempsey said afterwards. “We played with a ton of spirit today and I’m pleased with our effort for the entire game. I honestly thought we were the better team today. It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to get it done but we’ll get back to it and be ready to go to Albany (AE tourney) and see what we can do. I’m having a lot of fun coaching this team.”
The game was heavily managed with 65 combined fouls and 95 combined free throws. Both teams were in the double bonus for the final 7:30 of regulation. The Bearcats made 40-of-49 free throws (82%) with Reed converting 17-of-21 to tie a school record for makes. Vermont’s Clancy Rugg made 19-of-21 foul shots to pace the visitors, who converted 36-of-46 from 15 feet. Five Bearcats fouled out of the contest, including three starters. Two Catamount bench players fouled out as well.
Reed had 13 in the first half and senior center Roland Brown scored 10 of his 14 points to provide the Bearcats with a 37-32 edge at the break. Down 19-11 with 11:36 left in the opening period, Yacob and Reed hit back-to-back threes and Brown made a pair of free throws to spark the run. The half featured five ties and four lead changes.
In the second half, BU led or was tied throughout, until the Catamounts used a three-point play with 0:41 left to take their only lead of the half. Yacob sank 3-of-4 free throws with 2:09 left (foul plus Vermont technical) to push BU’s lead to 73-67. With 1:43 left, Brown hit pair of free throws to give the Bearcats a 75-70 lead. After a Vermont three-point play at the rim, Yacob’s three-point attempt from the left corner went halfway down before popping out. Reed made 1-of-2 at the line with 0:24 left to even the score at 76-76 and the teams went to overtime when the Catamounts couldn’t get a shot off in the final seconds.
But already playing without Brown, who fouled out with 1:20 left in regulation, BU watched Reed sent off with his fifth just 40 seconds into overtime. The Bearcats played most of the overtime with three players who average less than five minutes per game.
For Reed, the huge afternoon continued his torrid streak. In the last seven games, he is averaging 21.0 points and 12.7 rebounds. His double-double on Sunday was his 10th of the season and fifth in the last seven games. It’s the first time in the program’s Division I era that a player has scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games. Reed tallied a program-best (D-I) 33 points in Thursday’s overtime loss at Hartford. He raised his scoring average to 15.7 points (2nd in AE) and firmed up his hold on the top rebound spot in the conference (9.0 rpg.).
“I hope people realize how good Jordan Reed is right now,” Dempsey added. “There isn’t a better player in the conference right now. It’s amazing how we’ve been able to grow as a team through Jordan’s growth.”
Yacob tied his season-high with his 22-point showing. He made 5-of-12 three-pointers in 42 hard minutes of work. On Senior Day, Brown added 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
2014 America East Championship presented by SEFCU
March 8-10 - SEFCU Arena - Albany, N.Y.
Saturday, March 8 - Quarterfinals
#1 Vermont vs #8 New Hampshire, 12:00 p.m. - ESPN3
#4 Albany vs. #5 UMBC, 30 mins following. - ESPN3
#2 Stony Brook vs. #7 Maine, 6:00 p.m. - ESPN3
#3 Hartford vs. #6 Binghamton, 30 mins following - ESPN3
Sunday, March 9 - Semifinals
Semifinal #1, 5:00 p.m. - ESPN3
Semifinal #2, 30 mins following - ESPN3
Saturday, March 15 - Title Game
Semifinal Winners - 11:30 a.m. - ESPN2
(Courtesy: Binghamton University)