TROY — Gerald Drumgoole Jr. raised his hands and his face to the ceiling as he backpedaled to play defense at one point in the second half, perhaps petitioning a higher force to help one of his shots fall in.
The UAlbany men’s basketball team couldn’t find any answers there or anywhere else in the second half against Binghamton on Thursday night, losing 65-54 at Hudson Valley Community College’s McDonough Field House.
The game was tied 30-30 at halftime, but Binghamton made 63% of its field goals in the second half, while the Great Danes’ dropped off to 30%.
UAlbany’s lineup, which has been short-handed for a variety reasons all season, regained the services of Malik Edmead, who had been out with an injured finger, and Aaron Reddish, who was out of uniform for the previous two games for not meeting what head coach Dwayne Killings called “certain program standards.”
But Drumgoole, who has been playing almost every minute of every game lately, suffered through a rough 1 for 17 shooting night, and the Great Danes also lost star freshman center Jonathan Beagle with 3:05 left when he was ejected after a hard foul on Tariq Balogun.
UAlbany (1-5 America East, 6-15 overall) lost for the sixth time in the last seven games, and the Bearcats, who have won four straight, improved to 4-1 and 8-10.
“We’re not tough enough,” Killings said. “There’s a couple plays, a loose ball, an offensive rebound that we can’t pull in. To win, you’ve got to find a way to make those plays. I thought what they did best was they exploit mismatches really, really well. They did that great in the second half. They went guys one-on-one, isolated guys, and our one-on-one defense has not been good.”
“We know it’s tough with a lot of guys being down, guys being injured, guys being sick,” UAlbany guard Da’Kquan Davis said. “We’ve been hit with a lot of adversity that, quite frankly, no other team in the country has gone through. So we just have to keep plugging away.”
The Great Danes trailed 59-52 with over four minutes left in the game, but Beagle, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, was kicked out by the officials after the hard foul on Balogun.
The Bearcats’ 6-foot-10 center wound up on the floor with Beagle standing over him, and Beagle appeared to inadvertently step on Balogun. The makings of a scuffle was quickly broken up, and Binghamton’s Miles Gibson and Beagle each drew technical fouls.
The Bearcats put the game on ice by holding UAlbany to just two points in the final four-plus minutes.
“It was a hard foul,” Davis said. “You have to move on to the next play and not dwell on the past. When we were on a run, it was a tough call to be made and kind of stopped our momentum a little bit and I think ultimately sealed the game for them.”
“It’s a play where he’s trying to figure out how to foul, but foul the right way, gets hung up,” Killings said. “It shows his character when he walks off the court and there’s no nonsense there. But, yeah, he’s frustrated. I think everybody is. They’re trying to figure this thing out.”
Neither team led by more than five points in the first half, when the score was tied six times, including 30-30 at the buzzer on a transition layup by Davis.
The Bearcats wasted no time getting the upper hand in the second half, scoring six quick points and prompting Killings to call timeout with just 2:44 off the clock.
Binghamton proceeded to maintain a six-eight point lead until getting it to double digits for the first time in the game at 54-43, on a three-point play by Christian Hinckson with 10:03 left.
UAlbany was 2 for 19 from 3-point range, including 0 for 8 by Drumgoole.
“Gerald’s a great player,” Edmead said. “You see what he’s been doing. No one’s going to play good every night. And as a team we have to be there to pick up on whatever he left off. Today wasn’t the best day for him, and it wasn’t the best day for the team.
“Gerald got open for some good looks, and they just don’t go in the basket,” Killings said. “Beagle’s in the paint, he’s got a really nice jump hook, it doesn’t go in. Da’Kquan gets a good look, doesn’t go in. So now you have to find a stop at the other end, and we were just not doing it.”