Immediate Release: November 15, 2004
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Binghamton (0-1) outplayed heavily-favored Michigan (1-0) for much of the game before the the Bearcats ran out of gas midway through the second half, allowing the host Wolverines to rally for a 59-46 win in an opening-round game of the Preseason NIT Monday night from Crisler Arena. Michigan now advances to the NIT quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The Bearcats led by as many as 12 points in the first half and didn't relinquish the lead until there were less than 11 minutes left on the clock. With the score tied at 41-41, Michigan embarked on a 10-0 run as BU was held without a field goal for 12:05. Binghamton managed just 14 points in the second half as fatigue seemed to take hold, and foul trouble and injuries caught up with the team.
Already playing without injured starter and low post workhorse Sebastian Hermenier (Rockville, Md.), BU received virtually no production from senior frontcourt men Nick Billings (Kodiak, Alaska) and Alex Adediran (Covington, Ga.), who were both saddled with foul trouble. With seven NBA scouts in attendance, Billings fouled out after playing just seven scoreless minutes, and Adediran was held to six points in 12 minutes. Head coach Al Walker received huge efforts from freshman forward Jordan Fithian (McPherson, Kan.) and senior forward Joe White (Winsted, Conn.), who combined for 15 points and 14 rebounds. Fithian, who earned the start in his first collegiate game, logged a team-high 34 minutes, contributing a game-high 10 rebounds and five points. White scored eight of his 10 points in the first half, as BU built a 32-28 lead.
"We did run out of gas out there," head coach Al Walker admitted. "We needed more out of some of the older guys. Jordan (Fithian) gave an unbelievable performance for a freshman. They're a good team ... a Big Ten team. I thought we made it a good basketball game tonight. Most of our guys stepped up and competed and I thought we gave it a determined effort. I'm proud of the things we accomplished. We worked hard on taking care of the basketball and we outrebounded Michigan, which was a huge issue. We just didn't make shots in the second half, like we did in the first half."
It was a dream start for BU, which ignored the boisterous crowd of 9,162, the rich tradition and the ESPN cameras and jumped out to a 12-5 lead eight minutes into the game. With the score tied 5-5, Junior guard Andre Heard (Oklahoma City, Okla.) went on a one-man mission, scoring seven straight points, lifting BU on a 17-7 run that had the crowd silenced. When Michigan pulled to within 16-12, White responded with back-to-back three-pointers, increasing the lead to 10. White's turnaround jumper in the lane gave BU a 29-17 lead with 3:49 to play in the first half. The Wolverines responded, however, with a 9-0 run before Fithian scored three points in the final 47 seconds to preserve a 32-28 Bearcats lead at the break.
In the second half, BU bumped that margin up to seven, 39-32, before Michigan began to heat up. The Wolverines nailed a pair of three-pointers in a 5:24 span, and began a parade to the free throw line, which resulted in 11-of-12 conversions. Two more three-pointers in the final 3:29 sealed the win for the host team.
Junior Daniel Horton and sophomore guard Dion Harris led Michigan with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Binghamton next heads to Milwaukee for the Marquette Pepsi Blue & Gold Classic on November 19-20. The Bearcats open with a Friday night matchup against Mid-American Conference power Kent State.
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