Bulls hold off surging RedHawks 79-72

Four players score in double-digits in the win

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In the second half of Wednesday’s men’s basketball game against Miami Ohio, Buffalo surrendered 46 points and turned the ball over 10 times.

By the end of the game, the Bulls gave up more steals, lost the turnover battle and gave up more assists to the RedHawks after leading in all of those categories in the first half.

Despite the lackluster play in the second half, Buffalo did not give up the lead during the entire game.

The Bulls (10-3, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) defeated the RedHawks (5-9, 0-1 MAC) 79-72 at Millet Hall in Oxford, Ohio in the first MAC matchup of the season despite giving up a season-high 72 points. It was Buffalo’s second wire-to-wire victory in the past three games and has not trailed since there was 19:27 remaining in the second half against Cornell last Saturday.

Head coach Bobby Hurley was content with the win, but not the team’s second-half performance.

“We take into account that any road win is a quality win because it’s hard to do in this conference, but we need to play better,” Hurley said. “I thought we played well early in the game and got some separation from them. From that point on (in the second half), we just didn’t play at the same level.”

The Bulls were able to stay in the game with their clutch free-throw shooting. Buffalo shot 35 of 42 (78 percent) from the charity stripe whereas the RedHawks only shot 8 of 19 (42 percent) from the line.

Buffalo had four scorers in double-digits, led by junior forward Justin Moss. He finished with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. He accumulated 10 of the teams’ 38 rebounds over the short lineup of Miami Ohio.

“They were a little bit undersized and we thought Justin could get some stuff done tonight,” Hurley said. “He had a good statistical game. But as a team, we have to do a better job defensively. We gave up way too many points, especially in the second half.”

Sophomore guard Shannon Evans scored 15 points on 3-of-12 shooting. For the second consecutive game, Evans did not score a basket until there was about four minutes remaining in the first half.

The Bulls gave up a season-high 72 points, but were able to escape with the victory due to an effective first half. Buffalo went on a 14-2 run within the first four minutes of the game and did not relinquish the lead. After a 9-1 Miami Ohio run from 8:08 – 5:45 left in the first half, the Bulls responded with a run of their own. Buffalo ended the half on an 18-5 run to take a 16-point halftime lead.

The second half shaped up differently for Buffalo, however.

The Bulls were leading by 13 points with 15:17 left in the game when the RedHawks went on a 14-4 run to cut the deficit to three with 12:27 left to play. Buffalo held a lead as high as 18 points, but it was cut to two points (69-67) with as little as 2:37 left to play.

But with 2:08 remaining in the game, senior forward Will Regan completed a four-point play after being fouled while taking three-point jumper from the corner to make it a two-possession game. The Bulls were able to run the clock out and preserve the lead for the victory. Regan finished with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting to go along with six rebounds. Senior forward Xavier Ford scored 11 of his career-high 17 points off the bench. He also added six rebounds and connected on his first-career three-point shot.

“I thought Xavier was outstanding for the entirety of the game and Will was big for us down the stretch,” Hurley said. “He hit the clutch three and the foul that gave us cushion towards the end.”

The team recorded 15 turnovers, 10 of which came in the second half. Buffalo combined for 23 turnovers in the past three games alone.

Junior guard Jarryn Skeete did not play for the fourth consecutive game. He is still nursing an ankle injury sustained during practice two weeks ago. The Bulls will continue MAC play on Saturday when they travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan to take on Western Michigan (8-5, 0-1 MAC) on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.

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