The men's basketball team is beginning to relate to Dorothy, clicking their heels while saying, "There's no place like home." UB (11-15, 6-9 MAC) lost their fourth straight game away from Alumni Arena Wednesday night, suffering their worst offensive output of the season while falling 54-42 to the Toledo Rockets before 3,954 at Savage Hall. The news is not all bad, however.
Home is where Buffalo will be this Saturday night when they face Marshall, who they are battling for the eighth spot in the MAC.
Home is also where Buffalo will most likely be for a first-round MAC playoff game if they defeat Marshall and win just one of their remaining two road games, at Bowling Green and Miami, Ohio. Currently, the three teams all have 6-9 records in conference play, with three games left on the schedule. Buffalo has the tiebreaker advantages over both teams, but needs a win against Marshall to put itself in a good position to host a playoff game.
Ironically, Marshall was the site of the Bulls' last road win, an 82-78 decision just over a month ago in which Buffalo played some of its best basketball of the season. In their last meeting with Marshall, the Bulls' offense was clicking on all cylinders, as opposed to Wednesday, when their offense was running on empty all evening.
Buffalo shot just 31 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers on the evening, but still held a lead until midway through the second half, when the Rockets finally got off the ground.
Robert Brown's alley-oop off a Turner Battle inbound pass gave Buffalo a 22-17 halftime lead. The Bulls were able to extend that lead to 32-24 on a Mark Bortz three-point field goal at the 15:30 mark of the second half.
From then on, it was all Rockets. Toledo went on an 11-0 run, sparked by two Terry Reynolds three pointers, to give Toledo the lead. They outscored Buffalo 30-10 over the last 15 minutes of the contest.
"We didn't do a good job of executing down the stretch," stated UB Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon. "We lost our poise a couple of times when we had open shots. Our guys have to get rid of the mindset of thinking that it's going to get easier because you made a few good plays, it doesn't get any easier and we haven't matured enough to understand that."
Reynolds led all scorers on the evening with 13 points. For Buffalo, Darcel Williams posted another double double, with 13 points and 10 boards, but was only 4-15 from the floor.
Saturday, the Bulls will also pay tribute to their five seniors before the crucial showdown against the Marshall Thundering Herd. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena.