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Bearcats stumped by Vermont on the road

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - Sophomore forward Willie Rodriguez tallied a game-high 22 points but host Vermont (16-12, 8-5 America East) used a 27-9 second-half run to pull away from Binghamton (6-20, 3-10 AE) 78-64 Wednesday night at Patrick Gym.

Rodriguez flushed home a dunk with 11:45 left that brought the Bearcats to within one, 52-51. But the Catamounts responded with the big run to beat BU for the 13th time in 15 all-time games in Burlington.

Binghamton shot a season-high 55 percent but Vermont countered with 51 percent shooting and turned 16 Bearcat turnovers into 10 more shot attempts.

"We had a tough stretch at the end of the first half and that was as big a key to the game as anything," head coach Tommy Dempsey said. "We had control for 15 of the 20 minutes in the first half and we didn't expect to go into halftime down. Vermont shot the ball well tonight ... they are a very good offensive team. When push came to shove in the second half they stopped running their offense, spread us out and drove to the basket. Our weakness defensively is 1-on-1 and they were able to expose that in the second half. Playing without Justin (McFadden, who was injured) hurt us defensively. We found good rhythm on offense but the 16 turnovers is a few too many. Overall we did some good things and we'll build on the positives and try to get one back at home on Saturday."

Rodriguez, who entered the night sixth in the America East in scoring (14.6 ppg.), hit 9-of-14 from the floor to reach the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season and 10th in his two-year career.

Junior guard Marlon Beck scored 10 points while battling foul trouble. Backcourt mate Everson Davis also struggled with the whistle and managed eight points before fouling out after 27 minutes. Junior forward John Rinaldi provided a big first-half spark off the bench and wound up with four steals and two assists. Freshman center Thomas Bruce went 4-of-4 from the floor for eight points.

In the first half, BU led 30-24 before the Catamounts closed with a 13-2 run that ended with a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Binghamton returns home to host UMass Lowell at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game is the back-half of a doubleheader with the BU women, who play at 2 p.m.

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)