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Bracket busted

Bulls turn ball over 24 times, lose BracketBuster game to Manhattan

Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013

Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 14:02


Nick Fischetti /// The Spectrum

Senior guard Tony Watson (above) had a game-high 24 points, but the Bulls turned the ball over 24 times, leading to a 65-64 loss to Manhattan on Saturday in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters game.

On Saturday afternoon, the men’s basketball team hit as many field goals as, twice as many 3-pointers as and six fewer free throws than their opponent.

They played well enough to win in every phase of the game, except one: turnovers.

The Bulls (11-16, 6-6 Mid-American Conference) turned the ball over 24 times against Manhattan (11-16, 8-8 Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference), including 18 times in the first half as they fell 65-64 in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBuster game.

“We didn’t think they were a pretty good basketball club, so we probably came out not as focused as we should have been,” said junior forward Javon McCrea. “I mean, we turned the ball over 18 times in the first half and we were still up three, so we probably thought it was just too easy. When we came out in the second half, we took it off a little bit, and they came out really tough and kind of fought back. I have to give them credit.”

The Bulls outplayed the Jaspers for most of the game, outshooting them 55 percent to 42 percent from the field.

Senior guard Tony Watson continued his recent hot streak and finished the game with 24 points and three rebounds – his third-straight game with 20 points or more.

Also contributing to the offensive attack was McCrea and freshman guard Jarryn Skeete, who both finished the game with double-doubles.

McCrea added 15 points and 11 rebounds – his ninth double-double of the season – while Skeete was the third-leading scorer, finishing the game with 11 points and 10 assists.

However, both McCrea and Skeete turned the ball over a game-high five times. The Jaspers scored 11 points off turnovers and their bench outscored the Bulls’ bench 36-6. They started the second half on a 16-2 run, taking the lead for good less than three minutes into the half.

Despite falling behind by as many as nine points, the Bulls were able to make it a dramatic finish.

Buffalo’s defense held Manhattan without a field goal for the final 4:35.

“They were on the line a lot,” said head coach Reggie Witherspoon. “Defensively we got a few stops. We didn’t get enough obviously. We did OK defensively.”

With just under a minute left, the Bulls came down the floor and Watson got an open look behind the arc and hit his seventh three of the game to pull the Bulls within one.

The Jaspers didn’t score on their next possession, giving the Bulls 11 seconds to attempt to gain the lead.

Watson began to take the shot from three-point range but tried to draw a foul and lost the ball. Skeete chucked up a last-second prayer, but the attempt was unsuccessful. “All the blame’s on me,” Watson said. “I’m the senior leader. I should have stepped up and made a play.It was a bad play by myself. I should have been attacking the basket. I should have been passing to the guy who took the shot or taking the shot myself.”

The Bulls have not fared well in close games this season, going 3-7 in games decided by five points or fewer, including Saturday’s loss.

Buffalo has four remaining games, all in conference, as they prepare for the MAC tournament.

The Bulls begin their final push to the tournament at Kent State on Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.



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