VESTAL, New York – The Black Bears went into Binghamton with a four-game conference losing streak, but came out with a one-point victory over the Bearcats, 72-71, looking to ride that momentum into the America East tournament.
Andrew Fleming led all Maine scorers with 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks and three steals in the victory. He shot 3-5 from the free-throw line.
Austin Howard, who hit the eventual go-ahead basket with 45 seconds left, finished with 14 points, one rebound, and two assists. Ryan Bernstein finished with 13 points, four assists on no turnovers, and a steal; he hit two key free throws late to seal the win.
Maine opened up to a big lead quick, leading 13-6 with 15:19 remaining on a dunk from Vincent Eze assisted by Andrew Fleming. The Bearcats would then tie it back up with 9:25 remaining in the first, and would go on to take a five point lead. Maine came back to tie it up 26-26 with 4:18 remaining on an Austin Howard jumper. Both teams traded jumpers to end the half, with Binghamton on top 32-31 at the break.
Andrew Fleming opened up the second half hitting two free throws to take the lead, and then would put them up even more 35-32 on a layup with 19:22 remaining. Binghamton re-took the lead with 18:14 remaining with a 36-35 lead. Binghamton would finally pull away after more lead changes, with 14:14 remaining they led 45-44 and eventually went on a run to lead 53-44 with 11:51 left. The lead would grow to 62-52 with 8:10 remaining.
Down but not out, Maine went on a run to eventually tie the game at 4:27 remaining at 64-64 as Ilija Stojilkovic threw down a pass from Andrew Fleming. A Binghamton basket would give them the lead 66-64, but Fleming tied it up again with 3:12 remaining at 66-all. After hitting 1-2 free throws, Binghamton led by one point, 67-66 with 1:10 left. Austin Howard’s pull up jumper would give Maine the lead with 45 seconds left, 68-67. After a huge defensive stop with a steal by Fleming, Howard hit two free throws to preserve Maine’s lead, followed by Bernstein’s two free throws. After two Binghamton free throws, with the score 72-71 Maine, the Black Bears were able to inbound the ball and break the press, and despite the missed layup by Fleming, time expired, giving Maine their third conference win of the season.
The Black Bears will travel to Vermont on Wednesday, March 1st as the #8 seed to face #1 seeded Vermont in the first round of the America East tournament, tip-off at 7 p.m.