Senior forward Reggie Fuller had 19 points and 10 rebounds, D.J. Rivera added 16 points, and Binghamton beat defending America East champion UMBC 61-51 on Saturday for the conference title and the school's first NCAA tournament berth.
It was the 11th straight win for the top-seeded Bearcats (23-8) and their first America East title since moving to Division I in 2001.
UMBC (15-17), the sixth seed and the last team to beat Binghamton, made its first NCAA tournament appearance a year ago but saw its chances of a second vanish when the Retrievers failed to score in the game's final 4:49.
Rich Flemming led UMBC with 14 points and 11 rebounds, conference scoring champion Darryl Proctor had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and freshman Chauncey Gilliam had 10 points.
The raucous green-and-white-clad, standing-room-only home crowd of 5,342, the largest in the history of the school's Events Center, celebrated the first title of any kind in the program's 63-year history, storming the court at the final buzzer amid a sea of green confetti.
Binghamton shadowed UMBC guard Jay Greene with a taller player at every turn, and the strategy worked. Greene was just 3-for-10 -- 1-for-6 from beyond the arc -- and finished with seven points, four assists and five turnovers in playing every minute.
Binghamton took control by scoring 12 straight points spanning the halftime break, and then held on at the end when the Bearcats had difficulty finding openings in the UMBC defense. Emanuel Mayben's layup that gave Binghamton a 56-47 lead with 7:32 left was the last basket of the game for the Bearcats.
UMBC had plenty of chances to challenge after moving within 57-51 but they all failed. In the final 4 minutes, Greene missed a 3, Proctor was called for a charge as he made a layup, then missed another drive to the basket and a pair of free throws.
In the final frantic minute, Flemming missed a follow and a 3 and Gilliam missed a 3 and a layup.
The Bearcats led for most of the first half and threatened to break open the game early as Fuller went 7-for-7 from the field for 14 points. After Flemming's jumper from left wing pulled UMBC within 17-15 at 11:14, Binghamton went on a 12-4 run to gain a 29-19 lead.
Then, just like that, the Bearcats went scoreless for more than 4 minutes, missing five straight shots, and the Retrievers rallied, moving within 29-27 on Proctor's layup with 1:41 left.
Binghamton halted the slide and scored seven straight points to close the half, the final basket a long 3 from the top of the key by Mayben with 3.8 seconds left. It was his only basket of the period.
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