Bulls’ shot goes cold in first Alumni Arena loss
Men’s basketball team falls, 73-70, for seventh straight loss against Bobcats
Published: Saturday, February 15, 2014
Updated: Saturday, February 15, 2014 19:02
Just when it looked like Buffalo would pull away, its offense stalled.
The Bulls led 63-53 with 7:57 remaining until a 12-0 run over a span of 4:30 put them down two with just over four minutes remaining. The offensive troubles continued, as Buffalo hit just three field goals in the final 11 minutes.
The Bobcats (18-7, 8-4 Mid-American Conference) defeated the Bulls (14-8, 8-4 MAC), 73-70, on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena in front of an estimated 5,052. Buffalo has lost its last seven to Ohio with its last victory against the Bobcats coming Jan. 22, 2011. Senior forward Javon McCrea led all scorers with 18 points.
It was UB’s first loss at Alumni Arena this season.
“We are learning how to win,” Hurley said. “Hopefully we will learn how to close these games out down the stretch.”
The Bulls struggled with the Ohio zone defense throughout the game. Buffalo shot 42.6 percent from the field and only 25 percent from beyond the arc – including 14 percent in the first half. Ohio head coach Jim Christian said they probably played more zone in this game than they have in all other games combined this season.
“When we aren’t making perimeter shots, teams can zone us and we aren’t as effective,” Hurley said.
The Bulls trailed 37-35 at the half after Buffalo’s lead was as big as nine in the first half. The Bobcats closed the half on a 13-2 run.
McCrea finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. It was the first time in five contests he didn’t record a double-double. He also recorded five steals.
“Obviously you have to be cognizant of where he is at all times because he’s such a good player,” Christian said.
Freshman guard Shannon Evans and senior guard Joshua Freelove had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Buffalo faced a much different Ohio basketball team on Saturday night from the squads they have in years past.
2013 MAC Player of Year DJ Cooper, along with Ohio’s second- and third-leading scorers from 2012-13 – Reggie Keely and Walter Offutt – graduated. The players that led them to a 2012 Sweet 16 appearance and 2013 MAC East title are no longer around.
Nick Kellogg and Maurice Ndour – Ohio’s leading and second leading scorer, respectively – had 17 points apiece. Ndour added five blocks on the defensive end. Point guard Stevie Tyler did not play for the Bobcats with a leg injury.
The Bulls finished with four more points in the paint than Ohio, but the Bobcats’ nine three-pointers were more than double UB’s total (4).
Despite the loss, the Bulls had only nine turnovers and three in the second half.
The Bulls continue to struggle in close games, as they are 1-4 in games decided by three points or fewer.
They also lost a valuable opportunity to gain ground in the MAC with first-place Toledo losing on Saturday afternoon.
The crowd of 5,052 was the Bulls’ largest since Dec. 30, 2010, against BYU.
The Bulls host Akron (16-8, 8-3 MAC) with a chance to gain a share of first place in the MAC East on Wednesday. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena.