The UMass Lowell Riverhawks returned from a three-game road trip with their fate still in the balance. They also knew that one bad step could take that away from them. On Thursday night, that bad step took shape. The Binghamton Bearcats (8-19, 4-8), behind four players in double figures, including their best two guards Sam Sessoms and forward Caleb Stewart, defeated the Riverhawks 81-66.
The story on this one was the Bearcats ability to knock down shots from anywhere on the court. They came into the contest averaging 63 points a game. Their scoring margin was a minus seven and a half, but you would have never known it by the way they shot the ball and played the game.
The same cannot be said of UMass Lowell (14-14, 6-7), as head coach Pat Duquette said afterward, “it was not one of our better games”. However, he did praise the Bearcats for “playing really well”. The Riverhawks defense was unable to keep Binghamton’s best two players in check. Sessoms, who showed why he should be the favorite to win Freshman of the year in America East, scored a team-high twenty-one points on 7-for-11 shooting. He was three of four from deep and four of five from the free throw line. Several players from the Riverhawks had their chance to guard him and all met the same fate.
The same was true for senior forward Caleb Stewart who had eighteen points on 7-12 shooting. He was two of six from three-point land, and a perfect two of two from the foul line. Combined, these two players were too much for Lowell to contend with.
There were two ties and three lead changes in the ballgame. The last tie was at ten all with 15:17 left in the first twenty minutes. Binghamton then went on a 19-3 run, with Sessoms and Stewart doing most of the damage. They did get some help from guard J.C. Show. He would account for eight first-half points on his way seventeen for the game. The Riverhawks would never recover from the outburst.
The other telling stat was fourteen UMass Lowell turnovers that were turned into nineteen Bearcats points. As the coach later said: “they made us pay for turning the ball over”. In the second half, the Riverhawks were never able to cut into the lead. The Bearcats held the advantage for almost thirty-seven minutes of game time. It’s hard to win when you are playing uphill the way UMass Lowell was on Thursday night.
With this loss, the math for the Riverhawks is simple. For them to have a chance of hosting a quarterfinal game in the America East playoffs, they must win their three remaining games. It starts on Saturday with Senior Day vs Hartford. Christian Lutete had 22 for Lowell and Obadiah Noel chipped in with 13. Timmy Rose was the fourth member of the Bearcats in double figures with 11 points.