McCrea lifts Bulls to MAC East Championship

Senior forward scores career-high 34 as Bulls defeat Falcons in regular season finale

By BEN TARHAN
On December 31, 1969

  • Senior forward Javon McCrea powers to the basket during the first half of Saturday's victory over Bowling Green. McCrea scored a career-high 34 points. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
  • The men's basketball team celebrated its first MAC East regular season championship on Saturday afternoon. The Bulls also won a program record 13 MAC games this season. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
  • Sophomore forward Justin Moss reaches for a ball laid off the backboard by freshman guard Shannon Evans in the second half of Saturday's game. Moss finished the dunk to send the crowd in Alumni Arena into a frenzy. The Bulls won 88-65. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
  • Senior guard Josh Freelove scored 10 points in his final game at Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
  • Senior guard Jarod Oldham scored eight points, grabbed five rebounds and assisted on four baskets. Head coach Bobby Hurley spoke highly of Oldham's leadership after the game. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum

In his final regular season game at Alumni Arena, senior forward Javon McCrea did not disappoint. On Saturday afternoon, he scored from all over the floor - in the paint, from mid-range and even beyond the arc - sinking his first-career 3-pointer.

McCrea finished the game with 34 points, putting him at 1,997 for his career.

"The way he played today is what he deserved to do in front of this great crowd that we had - to showcase what he's been about," said head coach Bobby Hurley. "And to have that type of performance in your last regular season game is pretty special."

The Bulls (19-9, 13-5 Mid-American Conference) defeated Bowling Green (12-19, 6-12 MAC), 88-65, in front of a season-high 5,452 fans in the team's regular season finale. The victory gives Buffalo its first outright MAC East regular season title.

McCrea was dominant on Saturday afternoon, scoring 17 points in the first half en route to the best scoring performance of his career. He finished with a career-high in points and added six rebounds and four assists.

"The crowd, the excitement, all the flashy plays that happened - I loved to go out like this," McCrea said.

The only other Bulls to score in double digits were Josh Freelove (10) and Jarryn Skeete (11). Statistically, the Bulls were not as strong as usual. The Falcons outrebounded Buffalo 35-32 and shot 50 percent from the field in the second half.

But Buffalo forced turnovers; the Falcons turned the ball over 16 times to the Bulls' five. Buffalo also had nine steals.

In addition to McCrea's 34 points, other highlights of the game came from two underclassmen. On a fast break, freshman guard Shannon Evans laid the ball off the glass to trailing sophomore Justin Moss, who slammed the ball home. The crowd erupted. One Bowling Green coach kicked his chair over.

"It was funny to watch it because Shannon was looking at me like he felt guilty about doing it even though it worked," Hurley said. "It was a beautiful thing and there wasn't a person in the stadium that wasn't excited about it. And I just admired that it worked and that he had the fearlessness to try it."

Evans finished the game with nine points, four assists and three steals.

The Bulls were winning 41-31 at the half and never lost their lead. Bowling Green trailed by at least nine points for the rest of the game. 

The Bulls appeared to be putting on a show. Evans had a few flashy layups, Moss had a big dunk and McCrea attempted more than one 3-pointer before he connected. All but two Bulls scored.

Senior guard Jarod Oldham scored eight points and four assists.

Hurley praised Oldham for his leadership on and off the court and also lamented that this would be his last regular season game coaching the seniors.

"I'm happy and excited for these guys," Hurley said. "For this group of seniors that meant the most to this program to have a school record for conference wins - these guys make my life on the sideline very easy."

With the regular season behind them, the Bulls can now focus on the three games needed to win a MAC Championship and clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulls secured the No. 3 seed earlier this week, which means they have a double bye to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament.

Buffalo's first game will be on Thursday night at 9 p.m. against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

 

 

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