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Despite 24 from Perovic, Bearcats come up empty

VESTAL, N.Y. - Binghamton men's basketball drew its highest home crowd in seven years and hung with two-time reigning America East champion Albany for much of the game before succumbing 69-56 Monday night at the Events Center.

In a game broadcast on ESPN3, BU drew a near-capacity crowd of 4,923 and the Bearcats were within single digits until the final eight minutes of the contest.

Sophomore center Dusan Perovic drilled 4-of-5 three-pointers en route to a season-high 24 points and fellow post player Thomas Bruce added 12 points, six boards, three assists, two blocks and two steals.

Perovic produced 15 points in the first half, when BU shook off an early 10-0 hole. After misfiring on 11-of-13 to start, Binghamton shot 63 percent (10-of-16) over the final 11:06 of the half to trail just 33-31 at the break.

The Bearcats kept within striking range early in the second half and a Perovic three withy 10:12 left in the game brought BU to within four, 52-48. But the Great Danes went on an ensuing 11-2 run over the next 5:12 to extend their lead to double digits and BU drew no closer than 11 the rest of the way.

"We didn't quite get there but there were good signs tonight," head coach Tommy Dempsey said. "This has been coming for Dusan (Perovic). It's been a long year mentally for him coming back from the injury. He's worked hard and has been a step faster these last few weeks. He gave us great spacing and it allowed our guards to penetrate. His ability to stretch the defense really helped Thomas (Bruce). It was a really good mix on our front line tonight."

Bruce converted 4-of-6 from the floor before fouling out with 6:19 remaining. Sophomore forward Willie Rodriguez added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Albany shot 50 percent in the second half and made 19-of-23 free throws for the game.

Binghamton plays the first of two straight on the road Thursday night at Hartford.

The 4,923 featured a huge contingent of students in the BU Zoo section. It was the largest crowd since a sellout 5,342 watched the 2009 America East Championship - a 61-51 Bearcat win over UMBC that propelled the team into the NCAA tournament for the first time.

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)