Bulls get back on winning side, best DII Notre Dame College
Published: Friday, December 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012 22:12
The Bulls sprinted to an early 13-0 lead and never looked back on Friday night, asserting their will in the post and earning their fifth win of the season – an 84-64 decision – against undersized Division II squad Notre Dame College (Ohio) (2-8) at Alumni Arena.
The big men and three-point shooting were the difference. Junior forward Javon McCrea scored 17 points and sophomore forward Will Regan chipped in 15, though both played sparingly in the second half, and the two gave Buffalo (5-8) an insurmountable early lead. Junior forward Cameron Downing scored a career-high 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half.
The game was all but over by halftime. The Bulls finished the first half on an 18-5 run and led 45-22, fueled by McCrea’s 12 points and Regan’s 10. UB was hot from downtown in the opening 20 minutes, netting 9 of 15 shots (60 percent). The squad finished 12 for 24 from beyond the arc.
“Over the last couple years now, we’ve lost Zach [Filzen] and Dave [Barnett] and Byron [Mulkey],” said head coach Reggie Witherspoon, whose squad was shooting 36 percent from three-point range entering the game. “So when you lose guys who have shot it that well, there’s some concern because you’ve got new guys. The good shooters anticipate and know where the shots are going to come from.”
The Falcons turned the ball over 10 times in the opening frame, and though they outscored Buffalo 42-39 in the second half, they could not overcome their early woes.
The Bulls dominated the battle of the boards, snatching 43 rebounds to Notre Dame’s 24. Buffalo also had an impressive 26 assists on 31 made field goals. Senior guard Tony Watson led the passing attack with a career-high eight assists.
“The ball movement was good,” Witherspoon said. “I thought Tony did a good job of getting people lined up and getting them put in the right place. I thought he anticipated very well.”
Freshman guard Jarryn Skeete filled in as starting point guard for the second game and played well yet again. Junior Jarod Oldham, the usual floor general, is expected to miss another 7-8 weeks with a wrist injury he suffered in practice. Skeete controlled the tempo and finished with a career-high 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Most impressively, however, the rookie turned the ball over just once.
Witherspoon continued to toy with his starting lineup in Oldham’s absence. Senior guard Richie Sebuharara, a lock-down defender who played sparingly in the early part of the year, started and performed admirably. Junior guard Corey Raley-Ross, who started the first nine games of the year but has seen his minutes dropped dramatically since, did not appear until midway through the second half. He played eight minutes.
Junior guard Auraum Nuiriankh has struggled at times with his jumper this year, but he hit three 3-pointers en route to nine points.
Guards Cameron Carlin and Lawrence DeArmond led the Falcons with 18 and 11 points, respectively. Buffalo shut down Notre Dame’s post game with 10 blocks.
Free throws were perhaps UB's biggest area of concern from this game, as the Bulls converted just 10 of 22 attempts (45 percent).
Two of Buffalo’s five wins have come against Division II opponents. The Bulls defeated Mansfield University, 76-57, at home on Nov. 24.
The Bulls dropped their previous contest, 65-54, to Washington State (8-4) in Seattle, Wash. A road trip to Oklahoma is next for the Bulls, as they’ll tangle with Tulsa (7-5) on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 8:05 p.m.
Tulsa is Downing’s hometown.
“Today, I thought his energy was significantly better,” Witherspoon said of Downing, who finished 6 for 8 from the field. “He’s good. Cameron has some ability. It’s good that he was able to have a game like this because we are going to his hometown next. We need him basically to have the highest level of energy he can have, and that will help our team.”
The Golden Hurricane, who are coached by legendary player Danny Manning, are 4-1 at home.