Big Shot Dave Shoots Bulls to Victory
“Big Shot Dave” Barnett goes up for two. His three three-pointers propelled the Bulls to victory Saturday. Meg Kinsley /// The Spectrum
In the men's basketball locker room, senior forward Dave Barnett is known by the sobriquet "Big Shot Dave." In the waning moments of Saturday's game head coach Reggie Witherspoon subbed Barnett out.
As he headed to the bench, Barnett said "But coach I was just about to hit a big shot." On the next possession, Witherspoon put Barnett back and the local kid delivered on his promise by hitting a clutch three.
It wasn't always pretty for the Bulls (10-6, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) as they relinquished an eight-point lead in the final five minutes, making it a one-possession game. But with the help of the deep Barnett trey and an electrifying block by senior forward Mitchell Watt as time expired, Buffalo bested Bowling Green (8-10, 2-3 MAC), 68-66 in the squad's first trip to the brand new Stroh center.
"[The team is] pretty pumped up," Witherspoon said. "It's very difficult to win road games regardless. For us to be able to come in [to the Stroh center] and get a victory feels good."
Senior guard Zach Filzen couldn't find his stroke from three, but his teammates picked up the slack in a big way, going 8-of-10 in the second half. The Bulls used their long range shooting to erase a one-point halftime deficit, highlighted by Barnett's three triples and junior guard Tony Watson's two.
"For us it was about ball movement," Witherspoon said. "At halftime we talked about the need to move the basketball and trust our movement. We did enough that they had to go back to man-to-man."
Even with the late three by Barnett to put Buffalo up by four, the game seemed destined to come down to the wire. Bowling Green scored a quick two, then stopped the Bulls on the next possession with Barnett failing to convert on the front end of a one-and-one. Falcons' guard Jordon Crawford took the rebound and went coast-to-coast attempting to get off a quick layup. It looked as though he would get a clear look until Watt seemingly came out of nowhere to send the shot into the bleachers and the Bulls to the locker room victorious.
"Mitch's block was just a thing of beauty," Witherspoon said. "Normally you'd say block it and keep it in play. What he did was block it and send it out high enough and far enough that the horn sounded while the ball was in the air."
Watt did it on the offensive end for the Bulls as well, tying sophomore forward Javon McCrea for a team-high 16 points.
Falcons' forward A'uston Calhoun outdid both players in the scoring column. He put on a show for the home crowd, keeping the Falcons in the game with a game-high 29 points.
"[Calhoun] is just a terrific player," Witherspoon said. "His skill set is just so versatile, he does so many different things and plays so hard. And don't get me wrong our big guys played pretty well too today."
The difference in the game was bench scoring. Buffalo's bench outscored the Falcons 24-3.
The win marks the end of the Bulls' first run through the MAC East, coming out with a 3-2 record against their divisional foes. It was also the first time Buffalo had won away from Alumni Arena in conference play this season after dropping its first two road contests.
Now Buffalo will return to the place where it has been near-perfect this season. Alumni Arena has been very friendly to the Bulls this season as they boast a 7-1 record. The Bulls' faithful hopes that mark will improve to 8-1 Tuesday against Eastern Michigan (9-10, 4-1 MAC). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
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