Bulls’ second-half attack results in first conference win
Promising freshman point guard Jarryn Skeete had a career-high 16 points on Saturday to help lead the Bulls to their first conference win over Bowling Green. Meg Kinsley /// The Spectrum
Perimeter shooting has been the men's basketball team's kryptonite this season. On Saturday night, after a first-half field goal percentage of 34.6, the situation looked familiar.
However, a second-half rally left fans at Alumni Arena feeling jubilant.
The Bulls (6-12, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) closed the game on a 24-12 run to beat MAC rival Bowling Green (6-11, 1-3 MAC) - earning their first conference win of the season and first Division IA win since Dec. 8 against Niagara.
"We talked before the game about the ball finding rhythm and I thought tonight we did a better job of that, particularly in the second half," said head coach Reggie Witherspoon. "I thought the opening minute and a half or two minutes or whatever it was of the second half, our guys demonstrated a lot of determination."
The Bulls found themselves down early as the hot-shooting Falcons jumped out to a 13-3 lead. But Bowling Green cooled off and the Bulls slowly regained momentum and headed to the locker room down eight.
Junior guard Auraum Nuiriankh jump started the offense by knocking down a three immediately in the second half to bring the Bulls within three.
"It's always good to see the ball go in as a basketball player," Nuiriankh said, explaining that everyone on the team still feels confident shooting. "I know we've been struggling shooting the ball, but no one's ever felt sad that we missed a couple shots."
Nuiriankh finished the game with nine points and five rebounds and contributed to the Bulls' 53.8 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
Freshman point guard Jarryn Skeete set the offensive attack in motion. Skeete, who has started the last three games in place of injured junior Jarod Oldham, had a breakout game. He recorded a career-high 16 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists.
"I said to someone yesterday [Skeete] is getting a lot of minutes for a freshman, for anybody," Witherspoon said. "If he keeps his attitude at an 'A' game, he's just going to keep getting better."
Skeete played 32 minutes and junior forward Javon McCrea played 34. The pair combined for more than half (36) of Buffalo's 68 points.
McCrea, who had a career-high 33 points in the Bulls' most recent game, an 80-68 loss to Kent State (11-6, 2-1 MAC) on Wednesday, continued his success in conference play with 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
On the defensive end, the Bulls were able to fend off Bowling Green's dynamic offensive threat, athletic, smooth-shooting forward A'uston Calhoun, who had success against the Bulls last season. Calhoun amassed 23 or more points in both conference games against Buffalo last year.
This time around, the squad held Calhoun to 16 points on 5-for-20 shooting from the field.
"Most of [Calhoun's] shots were contested, and I thought our post players did a nice job of moving their feet to make his catches tough so he had to step away from the basketball to get it as opposed to sitting behind him," Witherspoon said. "I think the last couple of years we've played behind him and tried to use our length. Today, we wanted to make it tougher for him to catch the ball closer to the basket."
Skeete, McCrea and the Bulls will look to build upon their first conference win as they travel to Ball State (7-8, 1-2 MAC) Wednesday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
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