Bulls hold on to topple Ohio
Buffalo takes two-game lead in MAC East
In the men's basketball team's last matchup with Ohio, Feb. 15 at Alumni Arena, the Bulls let a double-digit second-half lead slip away. A 12-0 Ohio run made the difference. On Wednesday, UB jumped out to a big lead but again surrendered a 12-0 run.
The Bulls (17-8, 11-4 Mid-American Conference), however, held onto their lead this time and claimed victory.
Despite leading by as many as 17 in the second half, the Bulls pulled out just a five-point win over Ohio (19-9, 9-6 MAC), 69-64, Wednesday night in Athens, Ohio. Akron (17-11, 9-6 MAC) lost to Miami Ohio (11-15, 7-8 MAC), 65-61, Wednesday night, giving the Bulls a crucial two-game lead in the MAC East.
Buffalo led 48-31 with 15:24 left in the game, but Ohio went on a 12-0 run over the next 2:19 to cut the Bulls' lead to five. The Bobcats kept the Bulls within seven for the remainder of the game.
Ohio cut the Bulls' lead to just one at 65-64 with 1:10 left. Senior forward Javon McCrea made two crucial free throws with 39 seconds left to make it as three-point game.
McCrea finished with 15 points and seven rebounds after scoring just four points in the first half.
The Bobcats' T.J. Hall, who missed much of the first game between the two teams with a rolled ankle, missed a potential game-tying three-point shot with six seconds remaining. Freshman guard Shannon Evans made two free throws with a second left to seal the victory.
The Bulls led 42-27 at halftime after senior guard Josh Freelove hit a 3-pointer as time expired. An early 14-2 run gave them a 16-6 lead. Ohio then went on an 8-0 run to make it a two-point game, but that was the closest the Bobcats got until they went on their 12-0 run in the second half.
The Bulls forced 14 turnovers and had 11 steals. Buffalo scored 12 first-half points off of turnovers. Evans and senior guard Jarod Oldham, both speedy guards, combined for seven of those steals. Evans had four while Oldham had three.
The Bulls shot just 2 for 14 from three-point range and went 11 for 21 from the foul line. The teams combined to commit 39 fouls. Junior forward Xavier Ford fouled out with 5:43 left.
Junior forward Will Regan had 10 points and four rebounds. Oldham and Freelove combined to score 23 points in the first half, but the pair scored just four points in the second. Freelove had 14 overall while Oldham had 13. Evans filled out the stat sheet with six points, five rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks.
The win was the Bulls' first against Ohio in their last eight tries. After the Bulls' 73-70 loss to Ohio Feb. 15, they trailed both Ohio and Akron by a half game and full game, respectively, in the MAC East. Buffalo now leads both of those teams by two games. The Bulls are seeking a triple bye in the MAC Tournament.
Toledo (23-5, 11-4 MAC), which was the West's co-leader, also lost Wednesday, moving the Rockets into a tie with UB for the overall No. 2 seed. Toledo holds the tiebreaker.
The Bulls will next play Miami Ohio at Alumni Arena Saturday. Tipoff is set for noon.
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