Where there’s a Will, there’s a way
Bulls hold off Ball State for second conference win
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013 19:01
It took sophomore forward Will Regan, a transfer from the University of Virginia, a few games to string together a good performance in the Mid-American Conference. In Wednesday night’s battle with Ball State (7-10, 1-4 MAC), he finally found his comfort zone.
Regan hit four 3-pointers for the Bulls (7-12, 2-3 MAC), including what would be a game-sealing three to give the Bulls a 64-60 lead with just 12 seconds left. The Bulls held on to defeat the Cardinals 66-63.
Fellow big man junior forward Javon McCrea had a game-high 24 points (10 for 12 from the field) and seven rebounds. On Monday, McCrea was announced as MAC East Player of the week, and he is now averaging 22 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in conference play.
McCrea’s scoring did more than just create opportunities for himself.
“Javon was doing a lot of damage around the basket, and whoever was guarding him was going to need some help,” said head coach Reggie Witherspoon. “So at times, there were two bigger guys around Javon, which left [Regan] some room on the perimeter and he got a lot of good looks at the basket.”
Regan finished with his second-highest scoring output as a Bull (17 points, including 4 for 9 from three-point range).
The game was an intense battle that featured seven ties and 11 lead changes, and it wasn’t all pretty for the Bulls. They were outrebounded (31-29) and turned the ball over 20 times.
“There’s very few times that we have had more turnovers and less rebounds and won. It’s just hard to do,” Witherspoon said.
The Cardinals took an early 9-1 lead, and after that point, neither team led by more than four. A 12-4 run to open up the second half gave the Bulls a 41-37 lead, their largest of the game.
“The biggest thing is learning to grind out a win, be it at home or on the road,” Witherspoon said. “In those situations, it’s a close game, it’s going down to the end and you have to lock it in and concentrate on every defensive possession.”
The Bulls held the Cardinals to 41.2 percent shooting and prevented forward Majok Majok from recording his fourth-straight double-double. Guard Jauwan Scaife led the team with 18 points.
The win marked the team’s second straight victory in the MAC after starting conference play 0-3. In the Bulls’ first three losses, they shot an inefficient 10 for 57 (18 percent) from three-point range. In their back-to-back wins, they are 14 for 38 (37 percent).
The Bulls will be on the road in four of their next five games, making this win an important momentum builder for the upcoming weeks.
“Anytime you can go on the road in conference play and win, it’s a huge win,” Witherspoon said. “[In] this conference, [the] home team wins a lot; [Ball State], it’s a difficult place to play.”
Buffalo will take to the road to face Akron this Saturday. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.