Buffalo falls to Akron, misses opportunity to clinch MAC East
Zips’ early and late runs doom Bulls
Akron forward Demetrius Treadwell had 17 points and six rebounds in leading his Zips over the Bulls Tuesday night. Courtesy of Jeff Harwell, Akron Athletics
The men's basketball team outscored Akron 40-21 from the 12-minute mark of the first half to the 14-minute mark of the second half Tuesday night. The run allowed the Bulls to take a brief lead.
The Bulls' poor play at the beginning and end of the game, however, sealed their fate.
Buffalo (18-9, 12-5 Mid-American Conference) lost on the road to Akron (19-11, 11-6 MAC), 83-71, in Akron, Ohio. The Bulls could have clinched the MAC East title with a win.
Buffalo scored a season-high 96 points against Akron in their first matchup Feb. 19, a 96-90 victory. This time around, Akron limited Buffalo to just 71 points and 44 percent shooting from the field.
Akron was the better team early. The Zips went on a 22-5 run to take a 14-point lead in the first half. The Bulls' shot selection was poor, and they were scoreless for 3:10 of that stretch.
The Bulls did respond with a surge of their own, going on a 20-6 run to cut the Zips' lead to just one after Akron had taken a 24-10 lead in the first half. Akron outscored Buffalo 4-0 in the final two minutes of the half to go into the break leading 35-30.
Senior guard Josh Freelove overcame a scoreless first half to score 17 in the second. Freelove's impressive second half helped give the Bulls their first lead since the opening four minutes of the game.
With the Bulls trailing 40-37, Freelove scored nine points in 4:40 to help give Buffalo a 50-45 lead. That was the last time Buffalo had the lead.
Akron then went on an 11-0 run to take a nine-point lead. The Bulls were able to cut the Akron lead to 59-55 before the Zips went on a 12-3 run to take a commanding 72-59 lead with three minutes left. Buffalo attempted to foul to stop the clock but Akron held onto a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Akron forward Quincy Diggs took over the game down the stretch. Diggs scored 17 points in the second half and played a critical role in a turning point in the game.
With the Bulls leading 50-47, Diggs stole the ball on two straight Buffalo possessions. He made a layup on the fast break after the first steal, and then assisted on the basket after the second steal which gave Akron the lead back at 51-50 - a lead it did not surrender.
Head coach Bobby Hurley then received a technical foul on the ensuing Bulls possession with 12 minutes left in the game. Diggs finished the game with 25 points.
Senior forward Javon McCrea had 15 points but only four rebounds, his lowest rebound total since Dec. 7 against St. Bonaventure. Freshman guard Shannon Evans had 12 points and five assists while junior forward Will Regan had eight points and nine rebounds. Sophomore forward Justin Moss came off the bench and scored seven.
The two teams Buffalo trailed in the MAC standings both won Tuesday night. Toledo (25-5, 13-4 MAC) defeated Central Michigan (10-19, 3-14 MAC), 73-69, and Western Michigan (20-9, 13-4 MAC) defeated Northern Illinois (13-16, 7-10 MAC), 61-56. Buffalo is currently still third in the MAC.
A victory on Saturday will clinch the three seed in next week's MAC Tournament.
The Bulls will close out the regular season Saturday when they host Bowling Green (12-17, 6-10) at Alumni Arena at 2:30 p.m. The game will be the Bulls' last in Alumni Arena this season and the team will honor the seniors for Senior Day before the game.
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