Releases

For Immediate Release: March 8, 2009
Contact: John Hartrick (hartrick@binghamton.edu)
Phone: 607-777-6800

BU men's basketball stuns New Hampshire72-67 to reach title game

No. 1 Bearcats will host No. 6 UMBC at 11 a.m. Saturday at Events Center

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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Junior guard D.J. Rivera stole an inbounds pass with 11 seconds left and his dunk propelled top-seeded Binghamton (22-8) to a 72-67 win over No. 4 New Hampshire (14-16) in the America East semifinals Sunday night from Albany's SEFCU Arena. The win, BU's 10th consecutive, advances the Bearcats into their first-ever America East championship game, which they will host on March 14 at the Events Center.

With BU clinging to a 68-67 lead and UNH setting up a potential game-winning shot in the closing 13 seconds, Rivera jumped into the passing lane just inside mid-court, stole the pass and raced to the basket before soaring for the jam in front of a frenzied BU student section. Junior guard Emanuel Mayben added two free throws with 6.6 seconds left to complete BU's 10-0 scoring run to end the game.

The Wildcats led 67-62 with 2:02 left before Rivera started the comeback by nailing a three-pointer. Senior forward Reggie Fuller grabbed an offensive rebound and his putback and ensuing free throw gave the Bearcats a 68-67 lead with 1:18 left. Mayben was called for a charge with 18 seconds left, however, giving UNH one final possession. But Rivera, who scored a game-high 26 points, rescued the Bearcats with his magical play.

"That's the type of play an MVP makes," head coach Kevin Broadus said of Rivera's steal and jam. "It was an America East war out there. New Hampshire is a tough bunch of guys and the game could've gone either way. We regrouped in the second half and played together."

The second half was tight as neither team led by more than five points. There were 16 lead changes and 13 ties in the game.

Rivera scored 17 of his 26 points after intermission, and also had eight rebounds and three steals. Mayben produced 19 points and three steals, and junior guard Malik Alvin added 10 points. Fuller wound up with a workmanlike nine points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes. Mayben had two key plays late in the game. When the momentum had swung to UNH after a three-pointer, Mayben dropped in a leaning 14-footer with 6:01 left and his free throw completed a three-point play that tied the game at 57. He then sank three free throws after being fouled attempting a three-pointer with 3:43 left and BU trailing 61-59.

In the first half, BU used an 11-0 run to build a 20-10 lead but UNH responded with a 10-0 run to even the score at 20. The Wildcats hit five three-pointers in the half, and made 4-of-4 free throws in the final 52 seconds to carry a 36-34 lead into intermission. Rivera led BU with nine points and seven boards in the first half. But the Bearcats hit just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc.

NOTES
The title game will be broadcast live on ESPN2... It will be BU's first nationally-televised game in school history... Binghamton's school-record 10-game win streak is the fourth longest current streak in the nation (Memphis 22, Weber State 12, American 11)... BU is 11-2 this season at home, where it is averaging a league-high 3,782 fans... Binghamton and UMBC split their regular-season series.

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