Release:January 29, 2011
VESTAL, N.Y. -- First-place Maine (14-7, 8-1 AE) rallied from 22 points down to stun Binghamton (6-16, 3-6 AE) 77-74 in an America East game Saturday night from the Events Center. The visiting Black Bears, winners of seven straight, trailed by 13 at the break and didn't have a lead until 1:34 to play. Maine sank 18-of-24 free throws to pin a sixth straight defeat on the Bearcats.
In front of 3,868 fans, BU put four players in double figures, built a double-digit lead and seemed on its way to an upset win to start the second half of league play. But Maine chipped away at the lead, cutting its deficit to single digits early in the second half and moving to within striking range in the game's final 10 minutes.
When senior forward Mahamoud Jabbi converted a layup with 4:53 left, BU's lead was six, 71-65. But the Bearcats missed eight straight shots thereafter and Maine capitalized. The Black Bears, who shot 47% in the second half and made 14-of-18 free throws, embarked on a 12-0 run to steal the win.
Binghamton trailed 74-71 with 36 seconds left, giving the Bearcats final possession down three for the second straight game. Similar to the Boston loss when BU misfired on two three-point attempts in the final 11 seconds, the team missed two in the final 22 seconds tonight. A Maine free throw and a inconsequential three-pointer from senior Moussa Camara closed out the scoring.
"You have to applaud Maine," head coach Mark Macon said. "They are one of the best teams in the conference and they pulled it out tonight. The effort was there on our part. If we keep playing like this we will get a win, but we need to learn to close out games."
The Bearcats put together perhaps their finest first half of the season, shooting 53%, draining 9-of-17 three-pointers and putting three players in double figures en route to a 45-32 advantage. Junior center Kyrie Sutton scored BU's first 10 points and the Bearcats raced out to a 22-8 lead in the first 7:31. With Sutton on the bench after collecting his second foul, Jabbi took over, nailing a pair of three-pointers as the lead swelled to 22, 39-17, with 7:10 remaining. But Maine guard Gerald McLemore scored 11 of his game-high 23 points to keep the Black Bears in the game.
Binghamton shooters cooled off in the second half (34%) and Maine used its inside game and attacking style to get to the free throw line, where they converted 17 more free throws than the Bearcats. On the road, the Black Bears were whistled for only 10 fouls and BU went just 1-for-4 from the line.
"We didn't crash the glass and they got us in foul trouble," Macon said. "We have to understand time, situation and score. We have to get fouls and get to the rim. Their zone defense slowed us up but we need to counter that by attacking the seams of the zone."
Jabbi produced a double-double for the fourth straight game with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jimmy Gray got his own double-double with 10 points and a career-high 12 assists. Sutton wound up with 15 points and Camara added 14 points.
Binghamton travels to Baltimore to face UMBC on Thursday.
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