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Bearcats fight and fight but fall in overtime

BALTIMORE, Md. - Binghamton men's basketball (7-21, 4-11 America East) overcame a seven-point deficit in the final minute of regulation but host UMBC (7-23, 3-12 AE) sank the deciding free throw with 8.3 seconds left in overtime to escape 80-79 Wednesday night at the RAC Arena.

Binghamton had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but a heavily contested shot in the lane was off the mark in the closing second.

The see-saw game was tied 11 times and featured 14 lead changes.

"We made some plays to get to overtime but you can't turn the ball over 21 times," head coach Tommy Dempsey said. "That wasn't a good loss."

The Bearcats trailed 73-66 with 1:01 left before staging a furious rally. Sophomore center Bobby Ahearn converted two straight layups and the Retrievers aided the cause by missing four straight free throws in the final 22 seconds. UMBC's last miss with 9.9 seconds left kept BU within three, 77-74, Ahearn grabbed the board and fed junior guard Marlon Beck. After being held off the scoreboard for the entire second half, Beck dribbled up the floor and promptly drilled a deep three-pointer from the top of the key with 1.8 seconds left to tie the game. The Bearcats actually had a chance to win it after UMBC rifled the ensuing out-of-bounds pass off the court. But a layup in close quarters wouldn't fall at the regulation buzzer.

In overtime, the teams traded trips to the free throw line as the fouls and foul-outs mounted. Each team only made one field goal (BU was 1-for-5) but UMBC sank one more foul shot (5-of-9) for the winning margin.

Freshman center Thomas Bruce tallied a season-high 18 points with eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks before fouling out early in overtime. Bruce made 7-of-9 shots, thanks in part to four dunks, several of which were highlight-reel variety.

Ahearn scored a career-high 17 points and produced his first collegiate double-double with 10 rebounds. Ahearn hit 8-of-11 shots and scored 15 of his points after intermission. Beck was on fire on the first half, dropping 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. With the game-tying three, he bumped that total up to 17 points. Sophomore forward Willie Rodriguez added 13 points and eight boards.

Binghamton began the game with precision, hitting 11-of-17 (65%), including 6-of-8 from three-point range. But after that opening 14-minute stretch, BU made just 2-of-14 from beyond the arc

The Bearcats are in a three-way tie with Maine and Hartford for the fifth playoff position with one regular season game remaining. Binghamton hosts Maine at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Events Center.

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)