INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
Basketball teams near top of America East
By : John Hartrick and David O’Brian
While the campus was relatively quiet during the semester break, the men’s and women’s basketball teams have been making noise with win after win. Both teams are surging toward the top of the standings in the America East conference as they reach the midway point in the league’s schedule.
The men have won five games in a row to move into a first place tie in the nine-team conference. Binghamton and longtime SUNY rival Albany have identical 5-1 records and will square off in a key contest Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Events Center. That game will be a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game in March, when the Bearcats posted a 76-70 victory in front of a school-record crowd of 5,222.
Binghamton has fashioned its school-record win streak despite missing several players to injury. The team has also earned the bulk of its victories away from home, claiming tough road wins at Maine, Boston University and most recently at Hartford.
In the Hartford game on Jan. 19, point guard Mike Gordon was the hero at the buzzer. With Hartford setting up for a shot, Gordon stole the ball at the defensive end, raced the length of the court and dropped
in the game-winning shot as the horn sounded.
Senior captains Andre Heard and Sebastian Hermenier have been the primary catalysts during the win streak. Each athlete was named America East Player of the Week during January as they took turns lifting the team to victories. Heard ranks second in the conference in scoring (16.0 points per game) and is first in steals, while Hermenier ranks fourth in rebounding and fifth in free throw percentage. As a team, the Bearcats have been stingy on defense, limiting opponents to just 63 points per game. In addition, Binghamton ranks among the nation’s top 25 in fewest turnovers on offense.
Having steamrolled through the most difficult portion of their schedule, the Bearcats will play seven of their final 10 games in Binghamton, where the team can enjoy the home court advantage of the Events Center, which will again be the host site for the America East Championship on March 3-5.
Meanwhile, halfway through the 2005-06 season, the women’s basketball team (10-6, 3-2 America East) has already equaled its win total from all of last season.
With a deep and talented squad, the Bearcats lead the Ame
rica East Conference in points per game (70.9), field goal percentage (.458) and three-point field goal percentage (.388).
Sophomore center Laine Kurpniece has emerged as the Bearcats’ top scorer, averaging 12.9 points per game. She also has a team-high 6.9 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Rachel Laws, who has been named first-team all-conference the past two years, is averaging 11.3 points per game while senior guard Jen Blues has averaged 10.9 points per outing.
Earlier in the season, at the Carrier Dome, the Bearcats defeated Syracuse for the first time in school history, 74-52 on Dec. 18. Binghamton followed up with its first-ever win at Maine, 66-56 on Jan. 4.
The Bearcats started off 3-0 but Laws and Jen Haubrich suffered ankle injuries within the same week. Minus both starters, the Bearcats defeated a Stony Brook team that had an RPI ranking of No. 36 at the time. One week later, the Bearcats lost a battle for first place in the conference against defending champion Hartford, 65-64.
Should the Bearcats return to full strength, they will be a big factor at the America East Conference Tournament, hosted by Hartford in early March.