Bulls come up 'Aces' in victory over Evansville
Junior guard Jarod Oldham was one of the main factors in the Bulls' 56-50 victory over Evansville. His late game deflection led to the game-winning layup that gave Buffalo its first win of the season. Spectrum File Photo
It was the perfect finish for the perfect night - a much needed one for the men's basketball team.
Buffalo (1-2) was cold shooting from downtown and had to rely on consistent scoring from the interior players and timely buckets from junior forward Cameron Downing. A late score capped off his perfect shooting night.
It was enough to hold off Evansville (0-2), as the Bulls won the rugged battle 56-50 in the first game of the NABC Coaches versus Cancer Classic at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
In what was a back-and-forth game, Buffalo held a 43-36 lead late in the second half. The Purple Aces stormed back, tying the game at 45 with 4:28 left after an Evansville free throw by guard Ned Cox.
A few possessions later, Downing made what essentially was the game-winning basket - a lay up that was the result of excellent team defense by the Bulls. Senior guard Tony Watson corralled the ball off a deflection caused by junior guard Jarod Oldham.
It was a lead Buffalo never relinquished.
This play was the finishing touches of a game that was won on the low block. After spending the first couple of games mired in foul trouble, having played only 18 minutes in the previous two games combined, Downing came up big for the Bulls and scored a career-high 14 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting.
After coming up empty most of the game from downtown and missing its first nine shots, Buffalo finally scored its first three-point basket of the game, scored by Oldham, making the game 50-45 and ending the Purple Aces' hopes.
Oldham had a good all-around game, filling the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
For the third straight game, junior forward Javon McCrea led the Bulls in scoring. He finished with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field. He added four assists, three blocks and five rebounds for a team that outrebounded Evansville on the night, 37-28.
It was a tough result for an Evansville team that lost its star player early. While sporting an eight-point lead almost midway through the first half, the Purple Aces' leading scorer, Colt Ryan, left the game after he was fouled by sophomore forward Xavier Ford. Ryan wasn't able to return, and in his absence, the Bulls were able to storm back into the game.
For Buffalo, it's the first win of the season and the first road win against a team from the Missouri Valley Conference since Feb. 2004 when the Bulls beat Indiana State.
The Bulls will have 24 hours to get ready for their next opponent, as they take on Western Illinois (1-1) on Friday night as the tournament shifts to day two. Tip off for the game at the Ford Center will be at 5 p.m.
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