Bulls' record season ends in upset fashion
Buffalo records 14 points in the paint in 69-64 quarterfinals loss; tourney hopes die
No. 6 Eastern Michigan upset the No. 3 men's basketball team Thursday evening in Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Bulls won the regular-season MAC East title. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
Head coach Bobby Hurley consoles senior guard Joshua Freelove, who scored a career-high 26 points. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
Senior forward Javon McCrea (11), the MAC Player of the Year, finished with 13 rebounds but was limited to seven points. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
Junior forward Will Regan had a strong 16-point, 10-rebound effort in defeat. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
First-year head coach Bobby Hurley led the team to a 19-10 mark. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
Sophomore guard Jarryn Skeete went down with an injury early in the second half and did not return. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
CLEVELAND - The men's basketball team had the ball with the opportunity to force overtime at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday evening by doing what it had done effectively all game - hit a three-pointer.
Senior guard Joshua Freelove - who had the hot hand all night - fired a shot with 11 seconds remaining, but it went in and out of the rim. Senior forward Will Regan corralled the offensive board but was unable to find anybody open for another 3-pointer. His pass rolled out of bounds, and Buffalo's chance at a comeback was gone.
The No. 3 Bulls (19-10) dropped their Mid-American Conference Quarterfinals game against No. 6 Eastern Michigan (21-13), 69-64, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, in front of an estimated 4,116. Despite winning their first outright MAC East championship, the Bulls were unable to advance beyond their first game in Cleveland.
Head coach Bobby Hurley had one timeout remaining when Regan grabbed the offensive rebound and searched for several seconds for an outlet, but Hurley decided not to use it. He wanted to give his playmakers the ability to create and find an open space on the floor immediately after the rebound.
"I'll wonder if we could have called that one [timeout] quick, but I was letting that play play out," Hurley said.
Buffalo shot 35 percent from the field compared to Eastern Michigan's 39 percent. Nearly half of the Bulls' shots - 27 of 57 - were from beyond the arc.
The Bulls were efficient from deep. Buffalo shot 13 for 27 from three-point range (48 percent) as opposed to 7 for 30 on 2-pointers (23 percent).
Much of UB's inside struggles were due to MAC Player of the Year Javon McCrea's inability to score against the bigger Eagles defenders. EMU center Da'Shonte Riley - listed at 7-feet - disrupted McCrea for the majority of the game.
McCrea missed his first seven field goals and didn't connect on one until 14:19 remained in the contest. He finished the game 2 for 13 from the field with seven points.
Freelove went on a shooting spree in the game's opening 23 minutes and finished with 26 points, shooting 8 for 15 from beyond the arc. He didn't hit a 3-pointer in the game's final 17 minutes, however.
"I feel pretty good when I'm in a zone like that," Freelove said. "The basket opens up."
The Bulls trailed the majority of the first half until a 3-pointer from Freelove with 25 seconds remaining gave Buffalo a three-point lead. Buffalo built on its lead to start the second half - expanding it to as many as 10 points as UB began the half with 13 points in the first five minutes.
After Buffalo built a 10-point lead, though, the Eagles closed the game on a 32-17 run.
Injuries and foul trouble plagued the Bulls down the stretch. Buffalo's bench, which had been a strength for the majority of the season, had just two points.
The Bulls lost sophomore guard Jarryn Skeete within the first minute of the second half when he fell hard going for a rebound. He did not return.
Freshman guard Shannon Evans played only 18 minutes as he struggled with foul trouble throughout the game. He fouled out with 5:45 remaining and Hurley was forced to play with a larger lineup for the game's final minutes.
"We just couldn't put enough options on the floor that we could stretch them out and involve Javon," Hurley said.
Buffalo outrebounded Eastern Michigan 43-36, and the Bulls recorded 15 offensive rebounds. The Bulls were unable to capitalize on their extra possessions, however, as they scored only four second-chance points.
"That's the time of year it is," Hurley said. "It's the single elimination part of the year and we didn't close it."
Karrington Ward went 7 for 9 from the field to lead Eastern Michigan with 19 points. Mike Talley went only 1 for 9 for the Eagles but shot 10 for 12 from the foul line.
Regan finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Buffalo. Senior guard Jarod Oldham added 10 points, eight assists and two steals. Although McCrea struggled to score, he had 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks.
Eastern Michigan faces No. 2 Toledo in the semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena. The Bulls will have to wait to see if they receive a postseason invitation - which would most likely come from the College Basketball Invitational or College Insider Tournament.
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