Bulls fall to Central Michigan 84-73
Buffalo receives second conference loss in the season
The men’s basketball team played one of its best halves all season in Wednesday’s first half at Alumni Arena.
The team shot 59.4 percent (19 of 32) from the floor, 50 percent (5 of 10) from three, and committed just three turnovers in 20 minutes of play. Taking a seven point lead into halftime, the Bulls were setting up to continue their winning streak over Central Michigan – one that spanned back to the 2009-2010 season.
But the Bulls (12-5, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) couldn’t stop the opposing offensive attack in the second half as Central Michigan (13-3, 3-2 MAC) defeated Buffalo 84-73 on Wednesday at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The loss snaps a two-game winning streak and their second conference loss drops them to fourth in the East division - a half game behind Bowling Green, Akron, and Kent State.
“I think we were overaggressive,” said head coach Bobby Hurley. “We placed ourselves in a bad position offensively, took some bad shots in critical moments, and couldn’t convert some good looks when we got them.”
The first half saw both teams play well, as both teams shot over 47 percent from the floor, 40 percent from beyond the arc, and combined for just eight turnovers. For the Bulls, it was the two-man combination of junior forward Justin Moss and junior guard Jarryn Skeete that headlined the offensive run.
Moss and Skeete combined for 30 of the team’s 45 first half points. Moss provided a presence in the paint, while Skeete hit three three-pointers. Moss finished with a team-high 26 points and nine rebounds for the Bulls. Skeete went scoreless in the second half, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists for the Bulls.
Central Michigan wanted to increase the tempo of the game, while Buffalo preferred the game to be slow, limiting the amount of possessions. The Bulls slowed down the tempo and forced the ball into Moss, and thus, took a lead into the half.
The Bulls lost their final lead of the game with 16:33 left to play in the game.
The Chippewas opened the second half on a 17-5 run in less than four minutes played. Buffalo shot 2 of 8 in that span.
Central Michigan forced the Bulls in the paint and left the perimeter open. The result for the Chippewas was wide-open three’s. Central Michigan shot 44 percent from three in the first half, but exploded in the second half, shooting 72 percent from three, hitting eight of their 11 attempts.
“We didn’t do a good job on their three point shooters,” Hurley said. “We did a fairly good job in the first half staying on them and forcing the extra pass, but in the second half we began to sag and lose a ton of guys in the flow of the game. Defensively, we can’t play like that and expect a victory on the road.”
Senior forward Xavier Ford fouled out with 1:07 remaining in the game. He finished with four points and four rebounds in 20 minutes played. Sophomore guard Shannon Evans finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. He ended 5 of 15 from the field and finished below his season average of 16.3 points per game – good enough for second in the MAC behind Moss (18.3).
After the game, coach Hurley was in no mood to talk about the team’s next opponent: Ohio.
“We haven’t thought about Ohio yet,” Hurley said. ”We’ll have a couple days here to regroup before figuring out a game plan. I know this, we just have to be better on the defensive end.”
The Bulls will take on Ohio University (6-10, 1-5 MAC) back home in Alumni Arena on January 24. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.