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Binghamton Men's Hoops drops another close one, 67-64 to Maine

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BANGOR, Maine – Host Maine (3-21, 2-9 America East) made 6-of-6 free throws in the final 15 seconds to hold off Binghamton (4-22, 3-10 AE) 67-64 Saturday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center.

The Bearcats nearly rallied from 13 points down in the second half, twice pulling to within one. But the Black Bears won the foul game in the closing minute, hitting all six attempts, including the final two with 2.1 seconds left to create the three-point edge. A last ditch 50-foot heave by freshman forward Willie Rodriguez was over the backboard at the buzzer.

Rodriguez netted a team-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He scored 14 of those points in the second half, when BU shot 52 percent and outscored Maine 40-30 to climb back into the game. His turnaround jumper brought BU to within one, 57-56, with 2:32 left. After a Maine miss, freshman guard Romello Walker drove the lane looking for the go-ahead bucket and drew contact but no call was made. The teams traded free throws and then the Black Bears hit a big three with 0:40 left to give them a 61-57 lead, setting up the closing foul-free throw pattern. Maine made 16-of-17 foul shots for the game.

"Maine played better than us today … give them credit," head coach Tommy Dempsey said. "We were immature offensively in the first half (1-for-10 3-pointers) and you can't dig that kind of hole on the road. We competed hard in the second half to get back into the game but it wasn't enough."

Sophomore guard Marlon Beck II tallied 17 points (13 in second half), six assists and two steals in 38 minutes. Walker added 12 points (11 in second) and three steals.

The Bearcats started strong, using a three-pointer from sophomore guard Marlon Beck on the game's first possession and six early points from freshman center Bobby Ahearn to take an 11-6 lead five minutes in. But Maine went on an 11-2 run, thanks to four straight makes, and the Black Bears claimed the lead midway through the period. With 6:51, BU drew even at 22-22 after a nice entry pass from Ahearn gave freshman forward Willie Rodriguez a layup. But Maine closed out the half with a 13-1 run and the hosts took a 37-24 cushion into intermission. Binghamton missed its last seven shots of the half. After Beck's opening three, BU missed its next nine shots from beyond the arc.

Freshman wing Justin McFadden, who led the team in scoring and rebounding against Hartford, was limited to six minutes (all in first half) with an illness. Ahearn's contributions were limited due to foul trouble. He exited with 1:24 left after receiving his fifth foul and played just 22 minutes.

Binghamton returns home to host longtime SUNY rival Albany at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Events Center.

(Courtesy: Binghamton University Athletics)