UB Bulls fall to Ohio 103-96 in overtime

Buffalo tied for third place in the MAC East with loss to Bobcats


It took 45 minutes to decide a winner.

After a missed shot in the final moments of regulation, the Buffalo men’s basketball team had five extra minutes to knock off the very team that head coach Nate Oats said “embarrassed” Buffalo the last time they met.

It was a better effort this time around for Buffalo, but it was still the same result.

The Bulls (16-13, 9-7 Mid-American Conference) fell to Ohio (19-9, 10-6 MAC) 103-96 in overtime on Saturday afternoon in Athens, Ohio. The Bobcats have now swept the season series against the Bulls and the loss pushes Buffalo down to third place in the MAC East with two games remaining in the regular season.

Ohio defeated Buffalo 94-75 in the teams' first meeting on Feb. 12. 

“It was a tough loss, I thought our guys had played pretty hard for the majority of game,” Oats said. “We had a rough stretch at the end of the first half – letting them get back into the game after building a 10-point lead. You can’t play well for 35 of 45 minutes. We need to execute better.”

With two minutes to go, the Bulls looked like they had carved out enough space to get the victory with an 85-80 lead.

Then, Ohio forward Antonio Campbell made a layup, followed by a quick three-pointer by Ohio guard Jordan Dartis to tie the game with one minute remaining.

The Bulls finished 45 percent shooting from the floor, but sophomore guard Lamonte Bearden couldn’t knock down a shot in the final seconds to claim a victory in regulation.

“We needed to go up seven there,” Oats said. “We had five-point lead with two [minutes] to go and we couldn’t extend it there. We allowed the corner three and they got back into it. Again, we needed to execute better.”

Buffalo came out in a flurry in overtime, but Buffalo’s lingering foul trouble throughout the game continued into the overtime period. The Bulls finished with 36 fouls against Ohio – six of the nine Bulls who played Saturday finished with four fouls or more.

In overtime, freshman forward Nick Perkins and senior guard/forward Rodell Wigginton both picked up their fifth and final fouls, joining freshman forward Ikenna Smart, who picked up his final foul in the second half. Junior wing Blake Hamilton also fouled out in overtime. He picked up a personal foul and technical foul in the final minutes.

“We had some dumb ones,” Oats said about the fouls. “You can’t grab guys, you can’t hold them. Even in the first half, we had some dumb ones. Two hands in the back on an offensive rebound, two hands on the ball-handler on a double team. We have to do a better job of not fouling.”

In a losing effort, the Bulls did get two excellent performances from Hamilton and junior wing Willie Conner.

The two combined for 50 points, spearheading Buffalo’s offense. Conner, who finished with a career-high 28 points in 43 minutes played, commanded the offense by getting to the basket at will and even stretched the floor for the Bulls, knocking down 3 of 6 three-point attempts.

Hamilton continued a strong streak of scoring performances, scoring 22 against Ohio and now scoring at least 15 points in his last three games. Along with good shooting, Hamilton did a bit of everything for the Bulls on Saturday. He grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked three shots before fouling out late in overtime.

Bearden finished with 14 points and four assists. The Bulls had won six straight games when Bearden was in the lineup. Senior guard Rodell Wigginton finished with nine points and six rebounds, while freshman guard CJ Massinburg finished with eight points and five rebounds.

In losing the season series with Ohio, the Bulls may have lost their grip on the No. 3 seed for the upcoming MAC Tournament. But it’s still possible Buffalo can rebound in its final stretch of the season.

With Kent State (18-11,9-7 MAC) losing to Miami Ohio (14-15, 5-11 MAC) earlier on Saturday, the Bulls remain in third place. In the event of a tie in the conference standings between the Bulls and Golden Flashes, Buffalo would have the tiebreaker, as the Bulls swept Kent State this season.

“We can still get a top-four seed,” Oats said, “If we win out, we’ll be a top-four seed. The difference between a No. 3 and No. 4 seed and a No. 1 and No. 2 seed … you still have to win three games. If we want to get back to the NCAA Tournament, we’ll have to win five in a row. If we get a top four, we have to win three.”

The Bulls will return home to Alumni Arena to face Miami Ohio (11-18, 5-11 MAC) on Tuesday. The Bulls won their previous matchup against Miami Ohio this season, defeating the Red Hawks 77-60 at Millett Hall on Jan. 19. Tuesday’s matchup will also be #Operation6000, UB Athletics’ attempt to sell out Alumni Arena for the team’s final home game of the season.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Quentin Haynes is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @HaynesTheWriter.