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Men's basketball defeats Denver 74-69 in first game of Cyclone Challenge
BU to face Iowa State in championship game Saturday at 9 p.m.
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Box Score
Post-Game Quotes

AMES, IOWA--Binghamton nailed 7-of-8 three-pointers in the second half and received contributions from an assortment of players to hold off Denver 74-69 in the opening game of the Iowa State Cyclone Challenge Friday night. Five players had at least nine points for the Bearcats, who survived a high-paced game that featured constant end-to-end action and a total of 21 three-pointers.

Binghamton advances to the championship game against an Iowa State team that has been to the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons. Game time is 9 p.m. and will follow the consolation game between Denver and Western Illinois. The game will be regionally televised and will also be available to DirecTV’s college basketball “Full Court” subscribers through ESPN Plus regional coverage.

“We showed tremendous heart tonight,” said BU head coach Al Walker. “Denver was the most talented team we have played this season. Every time we had to make plays, we did. It was a great team effort.”

Senior forward Jeffrey St. Fort (Miami, Fla.) had a team-high 18 points and classmate Anthony Green (Philadelphia, Pa.) added 17 points, a team-high nine rebounds and six assists. Each player scored nine points in the first half as Binghamton led by as many as nine in the first half before taking a 29-25 lead into the break.

The Bearcats then shot 48% in the second half and turned the ball over just six times. BU wound up making 11-of-18 treys on the game, outshooting a Pioneers team that is notorious for its 3-point accuracy and was coming off a game in which it drained a school-record 16 shots from long range.

A jumper by St. Fort with 9:33 to go gave Binghamton its largest lead at 54-43. However, eight straight points by Denver cut the margin to 54-51 with 7:00 to go. That’s when junior forward Brandon Carter (McPherson, Kan.) drained a three-pointer to make it 57-51 with 6:51 remaining. Junior guard Brett Watson (Wichita, Kan.) then made back-to-back driving layups in a 45-second span--one of which was a three-point play--as BU went up 64-54 with 4:12 remaining.

The Pioneers scored five straight points to cut the lead in half, but Binghamton once again responded as senior forward Stanley Ocitti (Cambridge, Mass.) stretched it back to eight (67-59) with a three-pointer with 2:18 left. Denver eventually would hit back-to-back three-pointers to get within 70-67 with 43 seconds to play, but the Bearcats sealed the win with four free throws in the final 42 seconds.

Watson was 4-of-5 from the floor and scored eight of his 11 points in the second half, while Ocitti scored all nine of his points in the final 20 minutes. St. Fort hit on all three of his 3-point attempts, and seven-foot sophomore center Nick Billings (Kodiak, Alaska) contributed eight points, seven rebounds and tied his season high with seven blocks.

“This was far and away the best game Brett Watson has had for us,” Walker said. “He was savvy and displayed tremendous presence on the court.”

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