McCrea, Evans lead Bulls past Broncos
Buffalo overcomes slow offensive start to finish with second-highest scoring output of season
Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 18:01
The men’s basketball team could not get anything going offensively at the start of its game against Western Michigan Wednesday night. The Bulls started 0 for 8 from the field and did not score their first basket until 3:37 into the first half.
The Bulls (11-6, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) bounced back to score 39 points over the final 16 minutes of the half. Buffalo shot 59 percent for the rest of the game to defeat Western Michigan (11-8, 4-3 MAC), 84-63, at Alumni Arena in front of a crowd of 3,052, including a raucous student section back for the spring semester.
“We started out a little flat but we picked it up,” said head coach Bobby Hurley. “It’s a 40-minute game. We didn’t start great but we found a way to regroup.”
Senior forward Javon McCrea and freshman guard Shannon Evans led the way for the UB offense, as the pair scored 20 and 17 points, respectively. The 20-point effort was McCrea’s fourth in his last five games and his third in a row. He also added six rebounds and three assists.
Evans had seven assists, one of which came on a highlight-reel play – he caught a behind-the-back pass from Jarod Oldham and then passed the ball behind his own back to Justin Moss, who laid the ball in to give the Bulls a 32-16 lead in the first half.
“That was fun to us,” Evans said. “Everyone was laughing and having fun. In order to do that, we need to play defense and apply pressure from the point guard position, and after that it’s all fun and games from there.”
Moss came off the bench and had his highest scoring output of the season with 14 points. He also added a career-high six rebounds. Moss credited Evans and Oldham for his own performance.
“This has been brewing for Justin,” Hurley said. “He’s coming on and he’s emerging and he’s getting better in his role. He’s been a lot better in conference play.”
Between Moss and Evans, the Bulls got a major contribution from their bench players, as the Bulls’ bench outscored the Broncos’ 34-13.
The Bulls led by as many as 18 in the first half and led 39-25 going into the break. It was Western Michigan that came out of the half looking like the better team, though. The Broncos went on a 19-15 run to start the second half, which cut the Bulls’ lead to 10 points and made the score 54-44.
Evans, however, hit one of his three 3-pointers, which began an 8-0 run for the Bulls and returned the momentum to Buffalo. The Bulls’ lead remained at least 15 points for the rest of the game.
The Bulls’ defense limited the Broncos’ leading scorer, guard David Brown, to 11 points and just 3-for-13 shooting. Hurley credited Oldham for slowing down Brown.
“Jarod Oldham was great on defense,” Hurley said. “I thought he did a great job on Brown, particularly in the second half getting after him with ball pressure.”
Brown appeared flustered at times by Oldham’s defense, particularly after one play in which Oldham slapped the ball out of his hands while Brown was looking to the bench for a sign.
Senior guard Josh Freelove scored all of his points in the second half, as he overcame an 0-for-6 shooting performance in the first half to finish with 14 points. Junior forward Will Regan added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore guard Jarryn Skeete missed his second straight game due to a knee injury. Hurley said Skeete’s status is day to day.
The Bulls next travel to Bowling Green (9-10, 3-3 MAC) on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.