ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)America East scoring champion D.J. Rivera capped a 26-point effort with a steal and slam dunk with 10 seconds remaining Sunday, securing top-seeded Binghamton?s 72-67 victory over New Hampshire that sends the Bearcats to their first conference championship game.
Binghamton, winner of 10 straight, will host the title game against defending champion UMBC -- winner over host Albany on Sunday -- next Saturday. The Bearcats shared the regular season title with Vermont but were the No. 1 seeds and earned the league?s automatic NIT bid by beating the Catamounts twice.UNH (14-16) turned the ball over twice in the final seconds to lose to the Bearcats (22-8) for the third time this season.Rivera, left off the All-America East team in the voting by the coaches, swiped an inbounds pass after UNH called time with 13.4 seconds left and scored to make it 70-67. The Wildcats then threw the ball away again and Emanuel Mayben iced the game with his 18th and 19th points. Binghamton fans, who chanted "M-V-P" every time Rivera scored, rushed the court in celebration.Rivera added eight rebounds and three steals.Senior Tyrece Gibbs led fourth-seeded UNH with 18 points and Colbey Santos had a career-high 17, but both missed key free throws down the stretch as the Wildcats failed in their bid to make the league finals for the first time.New Hampshire would have hosted the championship game if the Wildcats won Sunday.