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Binghamton wins bid to host 2005 America East Men's Basketball Championship

By : John Hartrick

Binghamton University has earned a big off-season victory on the basketball court, as the University has been awarded the host role for the 2005 Choice Hotels International America East Men’s Basketball Championship set for March 4-6, the conference office reported Tuesday.

The selection, which capped a lengthy bid and site evaluation process, came during a teleconference vote by the league’s 10 athletic directors, who also considered proposals from Vermont and Albany.

The three-day tournament will feature two first-round games on March 4, followed by four quarterfinal games on March 5 and the pair of semifinal games on March 6. The two finalists will meet at the site of the higher seed to determine the conference champion, who will gain an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. The city of Boston has been the site for the last three America East Championships, including the 2004 tournament, which was ultimately won by Vermont.

“We are thrilled to be able to host the 2005 America East Men’s Basketball Conference Championship in the new Event Center,” University President Lois B. DeFleur said. “The championship is a great opportunity for the community and the University to bring thousands of student athletes, coaches and fans to the Southern Tier. It will be a great showcase for the University and the America East Conference and will bring tremendous excitement to our area.”

In addition to the obvious allure of the $33.1 million Events Center, Binghamton has shown it can draw the greatest number of spectators for the championship — a critical factor in the decision. In 2003-04, Binghamton averaged a league-best 3,893 fans in the Events Center — a figure that was more than 1,100 more per game than the next closest school (Vermont, 2,707). The capacity will be expanded to 5,600 for the entire 2004-05 season.

“We’re delighted to be able to host the conference championship,” said Director of Athletics Joel Thirer. “I am also pleased that our colleagues thought enough of our game management and facility to afford us this opportunity. It’s great news for our campus and the Binghamton community, and we will do everything we can to make this a memorable event for the athletes, coaches and fans.”

Binghamton has not hosted a conference basketball championship since the women’s program hosted the Division III SUNYAC Championship in 1996. The men’s basketball program hosted the SUNYAC Championship in 1993.

The 2004-05 Bearcats, under fifth-year head coach Al Walker, are expected to return four of five starters and 11 letter winners from a 14-16 team that lost in the conference quarterfinals.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for our campus, community and for our program, to experience a Division I playoff atmosphere at home,” head coach Al Walker said. “It’s a reflection of the high level of enthusiasm in our community and among our fans, and I’m sure that great support played a huge role in our opportunity to host.”

All-session tournament passes will be available for purchase along with Binghamton’s season ticket packages when they go on sale later this spring.

BU golfers win Lafayette Invitational Senior Keith Hendrickson (Syosset) captured medalist honors with a final-round 70 (-2), leading Binghamton to the team title at the Lafayette Invitational. The Bearcats shot a tournament-low 290 in Saturday’s final round and their 36-hole total of 586 (296-290) easily outdistanced runner-up Siena (605) and the rest of the 24-team field.

Hendrickson shot 72-70=142 to grab his third medalist honors of the year. He birdied four of his final eight strokes to win by one shot in the field of 125 golfers. Sophomore Aaron Ungvarsky (Wilmington, Mass.) carded rounds of 73-73=146 to tie for third place. Freshman Jeff Wolniewicz (West Seneca) shot 75-72=147, and senior Joe Kunz (Webster) posted scores of 76-75=151.

The tournament title was BU’s fifth of the year under first-year head coach Nick Lasky.

Binghamton now begins a critical two-tournament stretch that will carry heavy NCAA tournament implications. Battling for one of three NCAA bids alloted to the region, BU will compete at the New England Championship Saturday and Sunday in Providence, R.I. The Bearcats received an at-large NCAA bid in 2003.

Men’s lacrosse wins third straight conference Sophomore attack Phil Cavallo (Cedarhurst) scored three of his game-high four goals in the first half to lead six goal scorers for the Bearcats en route to a 13-5 victory over host Hartford Saturday at the Yousuf Al-Marzook Athletic Fields.

Cavallo added two assists in his best overall performance of the season, while freshman attack Nate Kerstein (Rochester) netted three goals. Sophomore midfielder Brian Chaapel (Penn Yan), who scored the game-winning goal in an upset of UMBC Wednesday, came back with two goals and two assists, while classmate Matt DeCirce (Binghamton) chipped in a pair of goals and one assist.

The Hawks notched the game’s first goal early in the first period before Binghamton pulled in front. Chaapel scored the Bearcats first goal midway through the first period and BU added two more tallies for a 3-1 lead at the end of the period. A pair of goals early in the second period extended the lead to 5-1, and Binghamton eventually led 8-3 at the intermission. Binghamton puts its undefeated conference mark on the line at home next Saturday with a 2 p.m. start against Quinnipiac. The Bearcats last season earned their first-ever America East victory with a 7-6 decision over the Bobcats. Quinnipiac enters the game with a 0-3-conference mark and 1-9 overall record.

Last Updated: 10/14/08