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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Loss Drops Bulls to Eight Seed in MAC Tournament

It's been 40 days since the men's basketball team won a game on the road. With the Mid-American Conference Tournament less than a week away, the team is going to have to find a way to make things happen away from Alumni Arena.

On Saturday afternoon, the team played arguably its worst game of the season.

The Bulls (17-12, 8-8 MAC) wrapped up their regular season schedule in disappointing fashion, falling to Bowling Green (13-18, 8-8 MAC) 73-63 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.

The Falcons dominated the Bulls in every facet of the game in the last contest ever to be played at Anderson Arena. The energized crowd helped Bowling Green sustain an attack, as the Falcons did what many MAC teams have been unable to do: outrebound the Bulls.

Head coach Reggie Witherspoon was not happy with his team's effort in the important game.

"We did not rebound the ball very well," Witherspoon said. "We didn't have enough energy or intensity on the glass or defensively."

Buffalo couldn't seem to figure out the Falcons' defense in the first half. As a team, the Bulls shot only 31 percent en route to a 13-point halftime deficit.

Junior forward Zach Filzen hit his first 3-pointer of the game to bring his season total to 100. He is just the fifth player in MAC history to eclipse the 100 mark for 3-pointers in a season. Unfortunately for the Bulls, the sharpshooter went cold immediately following the history-making shot. He played a season-low 19 minutes for the Bulls and only managed five points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field, including 1-of-4 from long range.

Witherspoon thought the Falcons' defense did a good job defending the outside, and that's why Filzen didn't see much of the court in the second half.

"They got out and guarded our 3-point shooters," Witherspoon said. "They were determined to not let us shoot a lot of spot-up threes, and when we did shoot them we were 3-for-15. We rushed to get up shots when the reality is, we should've continued to pound it inside. We did a lot more of that in the second half and that's why I took Zach out."

Junior forwards Mitchell Watt and Dave Barnett combined to go 3-for-16 from the field and Witherspoon turned to his young players when things weren't going right in the second half.

"After we realized we weren't getting the energy we needed, we started playing some of the younger guys," Witherspoon said. "I thought they gave us great energy and got us back in the game."

Freshman forward Auraum Nuiriankh played a season-high 17 minutes for the Bulls and finished with four points and five rebounds.

Fellow freshman forward Javon McCrea continues to take a wrecking ball to the MAC. He finished with 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Bulls in scoring.

Senior guard Byron Mulkey and junior forward Titus Robinson chipped in 10 points each and were the only other players in double digits for the Bulls. Mulkey had four steals in the game and shot 4-for-7 from the field, but he couldn't find a way to keep the Bulls close in the first half.

Witherspoon thought his team's inability to get inside in the first half really took them out of their game.

"We settled for jump shots a lot in the first half," Witherspoon said. "We also didn't run up and down the court well. It's a simple thing to get back defensively and to run down the court on offense."

Bowling Green guard Dee Brown led his team in scoring with 21 points. He went 8-for-8 from the free throw line and grabbed four rebounds. Falcons forward A'uston Calhoun was the most dominating player in the game. He finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds and seemed to be the one scoring just as the Bulls were trying to make a run back into the game.

The Bulls finished the regular season as the No. 8 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament and will host Central Michigan (10-20, 7-9 MAC) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in a do-or-die game to get to Cleveland, Ohio.

E-mail: sports@ubspectrum.com


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