Union-Endicott had a 17-point third-quarter lead lopped to four Thursday night before putting away Binghamton, 68-59, taking another step toward the Southern Tier Athletic Conference’s Metro Division title.
Conference scoring leader C.J. Krowiak poured in 19 of his game-leading 25 points after halftime, including 11 of the hosts’ 17 in the final quarter. Backcourt mate Joey Orlando’s 15 points featured three 3-pointers in the second quarter, which concluded with the Tigers on top 38-23.
Thrice the difference swelled to 17 points in the third quarter, the last time when Miles Hamphill struck inside off a feed from Krowiak to make it 50-33 with 5:15 of the quarter elapsed. That prompted a timeout call by Binghamton, and an invigorated group of Patriots emerged to resume play.
Four players had a hand in whittling the gap to seven to open fourth-quarter play. Michael Midyette began the turnabout by tipping in a misfired jump shot by Andre Hawkins, Nick Snyder converted inside, and when Mario Cherry canned a 3-pointer from the corner the Patriots were within 50-40.
Following a free throw by Orlando, Sarbast Doski drove the baseline for a goal and Midyette turned Cherry’s fed from high on the perimeter into a bucket on the block 12 seconds before the quarter ended. The Pats, seemingly on the way to being whacked soundly moments before, were within 51-44.
“We went to our full-court press, got some energy and made some shots finally, which helped us get into our press,” Binghamton coach David Springer said. “We didn’t score a lot in the first half and they really came out and took it right to us.”
“We gave up a couple easy baskets, they were hitting their shots, we weren’t playing defense,” was how Krowiak summed up the visitors’ rally.
Back and forth the teams went through several minutes of the fourth period, and when Krowiak leaked off a Binghamton miss, scored ahead of the pack and tacked on a free throw it was a 61-52 U-E advantage midway through the quarter.
But back the Pats surged again.
Salen Turkovic scored on a put-back and Cherry buried his second 3-pointer of the half, this one from the right wing in front of his team’s bench and Binghamton was within 61-57 with 3:11 remaining.
But check that point total for the Pats — 57, as in, a scant two points the rest of the way.
Orlando started the Tigers back on a successful path by scoring in transition off a turnover and adding a free throw for a 64-57 advantage with 2:27 remaining. Binghamton’s final points came in the form of Turkovic’s jumper from the elbow, and thereafter Krowiak accounted for the remaining four points — though uncharacteristically missing a front end with 26 seconds to play.
“At some points when we were up big, we were pushing the ball when we probably should have wasted some time and that caused some turnovers,” Krowiak said of U-E’s evaporating lead. As for building that advantage to 17, “We were taking care of the ball, we were making shots and playing good defense — and we didn’t do that in the third quarter.”
“It got up to 17 points and maybe they relaxed, which our guys do,” said Springer, who has overseen similar malfunction a time or 20 during his tenure.
The outcome left U-E (11-2) at 9-2 in conference play, still two up on second-place Maine-Endwell with three games remaining.
The Tigers seemed bound for something far more relaxing after building leads of 11 points six minutes into play and 16 with 4½ of the second quarter elapsed. Six U-E players had a hand in first-quarter scoring before Orlando largely swiped the second-quarter show.
He opened U-E’s second-quarter scoring by banging a 3-pointer from atop the arc off Matt Gaydorus’ offensive rebound and heads-up exit feed. His next dead-on long ball was launched from the left wing courtesy of Osama Barwari’s drive-and-delivery, and Orlando made it a three-pack of threebies by splashing one from the right wing 37 seconds before halftime.
“We wanted to stop Krowiak, but when they hit the outside shots you’re in trouble,” Springer said.
Turkovic scored 16 points, Cherry 10 and Nick Snyder eight despite foul trouble for the Patriots.