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Bearcats give Dempsey best birthday present ever: a win

VESTAL, N.Y. - Junior guard Marlon Beck and sophomore forward Willie Rodriguez combined for 43 points to pace Binghamton men's basketball (5-15, 2-5 America East) to a 66-57 win over visiting UMBC (5-17, 1-6 AE) Wednesday night at Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center.

The win, BU's second in a row, jumps the Bearcats over the Retrievers and into a tie for the sixth position in the conference playoff standings.

Rodriguez netted a game-high 24 points and Beck added 19 points on 5-of-11 three-point shooting for the Bearcats, who led for nearly 39 minutes of the game.

"We did a good job executing the defensive game plan," head coach Tommy Dempsey said. "I don't think their guards really got comfortable against our zone press. We were really focused on not letting them get into the lane. Holding a team that averages 73 points a game to 57 ... that gives you a good chance to win."

Up 21-17 with 8:02 left in the first half, BU went on an 11-4 run that featured five points from Beck and four from Rodriguez. The Bearcats took a 32-23 lead into break and then early in the second half, Rodriguez (5 pts.) and freshman guard Timmy Rose (4 pts.) keyed an 11-3 run that extended Binghamton's lead to 19, 50-31.

The Retrievers trimmed the margin to eight, 57-49, with 4:59 left before Beck netted five points in 17 seconds to stem the tide. He drilled a three-pointer and then turned a steal into a fast break layup. Rodriguez made 4-of-4 free throws in the final 2:35 to seal the win.

Rose wound up with six points and two steals in a season-high 24 minutes. Rodriguez made 9-of-9 free throws and added eight rebounds.

The Bearcats shot 56 percent in the second half.

Binghamton departs Friday for the nine-hour bus trip to Bangor, Maine and a Saturday afternoon tilt with the Black Bears.

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)