Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Binghamton men’s basketball (1-2) orchestrated a stunning second-half comeback from 19 points down and ended the game with a 17-2 run to post an 89-79 win at Cornell (0-3) Wednesday night from Newman Arena.
The Bearcats put 59 points on the board in the second half – the most in any half during the program’s Division I era – and freshman guard Marlon Beck II punctuated the comeback with a game-high 27 points, 19 coming in the pivotal second period.
Sophomore guard Jordan Reed added 25 points and 14 rebounds and delivered a huge sequence late in the game. Reed made a strong drive and high-banking layup plus a free throw for a three-point play with 1:53 remaining that gave the Bearcats their first lead, 79-77. He then soared to swat away a Cornell layup 11 seconds later, which led to a Beck three-pointer and a five-point cushion. Binghamton made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 45 seconds to seal the win.
“What a win that was,” head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “We had contributions from so many guys … it was all will and heart. It’s so important … when you’re trying to build a program you need these kinds of wins. It would be so easy to go away when you are down 19 like we were and there have been times in the past when we never felt like we could win. But this is a new group and they believed in each other and bounced back.”
After everything went Cornell’s way in the first half, BU took over in the second, though it took the Bearcats 13:20 to get within single digits. The Big Red led 66-51 with just under nine minutes remaining before Reed led an 11-1 run that spanned 3:45. His two free throws with 6:40 left, part of his 11-for-11 effort from the line, pulled Binghamton to within nine, 66-57. Senior Rayner Moquete, who led the defensive stand in the second half, hit a big three-pointer to cut the deficit to seven, 67-60, with 5:51 left. Reed added two more free throws to finish off the 10-point swing. But the Bearcats still trailed 77-72 before stifling the hosts over the final frenzied three minutes. Beck tallied eight points in the final 2:52, classmate Yosef Yacob added three free throws and Cornell managed only a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left when the outcome was certain.
“Cornell played so good in first half,” Dempsey said. “It was much of more what they did then what we didn’t do on defense. But then we exploded in the second half offensively and got it done with some big shot making. We won the battle of wills and found a way to get it done. Nothing builds confidence like ‘W’s and this was needed to get that winning feeling … just a heck of a win.”
Among the many superlatives were Beck’s and Reed’s stat lines. Beck hit 9-of-15, including 6-of-9 from three-point range. Reed hit 6-of-11 and ripped down 14 rebounds to post his first double-double of the season and 14th in his young collegiate career. Reed also collected two blocks and three steals in 36 high-energy minutes. Freshman forward Nick Madray, the reigning America East Rookie of the Week, gave BU its third double-digit scorer with 23 points on 6-of-9 accuracy. Madray hit 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and added a key defensive steal with 3:32 left and BU in the midst of its big run. Yacob chipped in seven points and a game-high nine assists.
The Bearcats drilled 14-of-25 three-pointers (56%) and scored the most points in a regular-season game since pinning 91 on Vermont in another unlikely double-digit, second-half comeback road win on January 8, 2009. Binghamton also had 91 points in an America East first-round tournament win over UMBC in 2011.
The Big Red were sizzling in the opening half, hitting 13-of-19 to open the period (68%) and building an 18-point lead just 12:28 into the contest (31-13). Cornell scored the game’s first seven points and raced out to an 11-2 lead before the game was five minutes old. Binghamton, which missed 14 of its first 17 shots, put together a modest 9-2 run on a pair of threes from Reed and another from Beck to draw within 11, 33-22. But the hosts displayed great ball movement and numerous easy looks inside led to 58% shooting and a 43-30 lead at intermission. Reed and Madray had 10 points apiece and Beck added eight in the first half. After the initial cold spell offensively, BU hit 5-of-9 to end the half and keep within striking range.
Binghamton hosts Navy at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Events Center. At halftime, the school will honor its Hall of Fame Class of 2013 with the formal ceremony to follow the game.
(Courtesy: Binghamton University Athletics)