Bulls fall to Manhattan in OT at Barclay’s Center
Evans’ 20 points and McCrea’s double-double not enough in loss
Published: Saturday, December 21, 2013
Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2013 18:12
Despite leading Manhattan in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage, the men’s basketball team struggled with turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch on Saturday afternoon, allowing the Jaspers to stay in the game.
After UB appeared to have the game wrapped up with about a minute left to play, missed free throws allowed Manhattan to force the game into overtime and eventually win.
The Bulls (4-4) fell to the Jaspers (9-2, 2-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), 84-81 on Saturday afternoon at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I thought we gave a winning effort,” said head coach Bobby Hurley. “But we just didn’t make all the necessary plays to win.”
The Bulls had a few impressive individual performances, with four players scoring in double digits and three with more than 15 points.
Senior forward Javon McCrea finished with a double-double, recording 18 points and 11 rebounds. For the third time in four games, freshman guard Shannon Evans scored in double digits, recording 14 points in the first half and finishing with a game-high 20.
Senior guard Josh Freelove scored 17 points. Twice in the game, he seemed to singlehandedly bring the Bulls back.
With 5:46 to play in the second half, the Bulls trailed by six points and were struggling offensively. Freelove hit a three and a layup and then completed an alley-oop from Evans to bring the crowd to its feet and give the Bulls a one-point lead.
“He really got out into the open court and that’s what he does best,” Hurley said of Freelove. “He’s going to be a big part of what we do this year.”
The run ignited a strong close to the second half. The Bulls held a seven-point lead with 45 seconds to play and a three-point lead with 5 seconds. Then, sophomore Jarryn Skeete fouled Manhattan’s Shane Richards as he pulled up from three-point range, allowing him to take three shots from the foul line and ultimately tie the game.
In overtime, the Bulls were stagnant on offense for the first two minutes, before Freelove tied the game with a three-point shot with under a minute left. This was UB’s only field goal of the period, though, and Manhattan hit a layup and a free throw to extend its lead to three.
The Bulls suffered from a plethora of turnovers, turning the ball over 22 times in the game, something Hurley credited to the Jaspers’ “trapping defense.” Manhattan scored 22 points off turnovers while the Bulls scored only 14.
For the second straight game, Buffalo seemed to have the game in hand in the second half before falling apart in the final minutes. The Bulls were nearly perfect from the free throw line all day, holding a free throw percentage in the 90s into the second half, but missed two when it mattered most late in the game.
The Bulls’ loss came despite the ejection of two Manhattan players early in the game due to an altercation. Guards Michael Alvarado and Donovan Kates were ejected for leaving the bench during a fight on the floor. Alvarado is the Jaspers’ starting point guard. The Bulls scored six points off technical and personal fouls following the play.
With only three games remaining until the Bulls begin their Mid-American Conference slate, Hurley is hoping games like these will help prepare his team.
“Every game is a learning experience, and I think these are the types of game that really get you ready for the league schedule,” Hurley said.
The Bulls return to Alumni Arena on Monday, Dec. 23, when they will host Binghamton. Tip is scheduled for 12 p.m.