-- Reggie Fuller scored 19 points on perfect 7-of-7 shooting and D.J. Rivera added 16 points to lead top-seeded Binghamton to a 61-51 win over sixth-seeded UMBC in the America East Men’s Basketball Championship Final in front of standing room only crowd of 5,342 and a national television audience at Binghamton University’s Events Center on Saturday, March 14.
With the victory, Binghamton, winners of 11 straight, captured its first-ever America East title and will make the program’s initial trip to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The Bearcats will learn their fate during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday, March 15 at 6 p.m. on CBS.
Binghamton (23-8), which tied its school record for victories in its 63-year history with the victory, jumped out to an early 16-9 advantage on blistering 7-of-9 shooting from the floor.
The Retrievers cut the lead to two on a pair of buckets from junior Rich Flemming, who had a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards off the bench, and one by senior Darryl Proctor. But the Bearcats, who forced UMBC into 11 first-half turnovers, responded by running off 12 of the game’s next 16 points, including six from Fuller to take a 29-19 lead with 6:38 remaining in the frame.
UMBC (15-17), the 2008 conference champion, followed with eight unanswered to trim the deficit to two. Proctor, who earned first-team all-conference honors for the second straight year, capped the spurt on a coast-to-coast layup with 1:41 left before intermission.
But, Binghamton, who shot 51.6 percent from the floor in the half, closed the stanza with seven consecutive points, capped by Emanuel Mayben's 3-pointer from the top of the key with five seconds which gave his squad a 36-27 advantage at the break.
Binghamton expanded its lead to 14 right out of the gates in the second frame on a jumper by Rivera, the championship's Most Outstanding Player, and a 3-pointer from Chretian Lukusa. Matt Spadafora brought the Retrievers within double-digits on a 15-footer with 11:45 to go. UMBC, just the second No. 6 seed to reach the title game, continued to chip away at the deficit and got within six at 57-51 on a pair of Chauncey Gilliam free throws with 4:49 left.
Binghamton, who went the final 8:16 of the contest without a field goal, clamped down defensively holding the Retrievers scoreless the rest of the way and converted all four free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the outcome.
Mayben, who had five points, five rebounds and six assists, was joined by Fuller and Rivera on the All-Championship team. Proctor, who recorded a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Greene were named the team for the second straight season for UMBC, which had its five-game America East Championship win streak snapped.
The crowd of 5,342 was the largest in the five-plus year history of the Events Center and second largest single-game gate in America East Championsihp history... Binghamton is the fourth different first-time America East champion in the last seven years... (2003), Albany (2006) and UMBC (2008) were the others... UMBC’s Jay Greene passed Boston University alum Shawn Teague ‘85 for third on the conference’s all-time assist list and finished his career with 683... Greene is the fifth player in league history to be named to the All-Championship team three times... The game was televised nationally on ESPN2, the 22nd straight year the league’s title game has been aired nationally.