UB Bulls lose heartbreaker to Toledo 71-69

Bulls’ four-game winning streak snapped on last second layup


The only time the Buffalo men’s basketball team trailed in second half Tuesday was with 1.4 seconds left in the game.

With just four seconds left in regulation, Toledo guard Jonathan Williams went to the basket looking for contact. Instead, Williams found an opening, threw the ball up at the rim and nailed the shot to the dismay of the Alumni Arena crowd.

True Blue berated the often-maligned Mid-American Conference referees, while others in the stands looked for a travel call.

Neither changed the outcome of the game.

The Bulls (14-10, 7-4 Mid-American Conference) lost on a final second shot to Toledo (15-9, 6-5 MAC) in front of an announce crowd of 2,706 Alumni Arena on Tuesday. The Bulls had a chance to tie the game with 1.4 seconds left, but an errant out-of-bounds pass resulted in a turnover and the end of Buffalo’s four-game winning streak.

“It’s a tough loss,” said head coach Nate Oats. “We were down a couple guys, our numbers were low, we were battling foul trouble all night. We were up eight with four minutes to go, they get a layup and we collapsed from there. I made a change to the lineup, just ... we had some bigs that didn’t play much together all year, but they played well, I should’ve played them. Have to give Toledo’s credit; they just hung in there. ”

One of the main storylines heading into Tuesday’s game was the absence of sophomore guard Lamonte Bearden. Bearden was suspended indefinitely due to “conduct detrimental to the team,” UB Athletics said.

After the game, Oats would only say Bearden was out for a “violation of team rules” and will update when Bearden can return.

The Bulls shifted their lineup without Bearden by moving senior guard Jarryn Skeete to the point guard position and senior guard/forward Rodell Wigginton into the starting lineup.

The Bulls allowed 17 offensive rebounds to the Rockets, which resulted in 21 second-chance points for Toledo. The Bulls also had trouble getting to the free throw line, finishing with just nine attempts for the entire game.

Even with the team’s weak points, the Bulls had a chance to leave with a victory. They were up eight points in the final four minutes of the game, but their offense went cold late, with a lone layup from Skeete being the team’s only field goal in the final four minutes. Toledo, which shot 37 percent for the entire game, finished strong led by Williams and his seven points –including the game-winner – in the same stretch.

Lost in the shuffle of the Bearden situation and the team’s final second loss, freshman forward Nick Perkins had a breakout game. The forward finished with 17 points, four rebounds and went 3-of-4 from three-point range.

“We thought he had a mismatch with [Toledo forward Nate Navigato] on him because he isn’t that strong. He’s more of a pick-and-pop four man. Nick was able to pick on him in the post a little bit,” Oats said. “We probably should’ve went more with it more, even though they adjusted for it … it’s all part of Nick’s progression as a player.”

After Perkins, freshman guard CJ Massinburg finished with 12 points and four assists in 25 minutes off the bench. Skeete finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals. Junior forward Blake Hamilton had 10 points, three rebounds and eight assists. Oats said he was impressed with Hamilton’s play offensively.

“There were some good things there tonight,” Oats said. “The thing is that he’s a mismatch. Not many four men in the [MAC] can truly guard him, so he’s a mismatch there … able to move the ball, work as a passer. The issue is we had to make some changes, moving him back to [small forward] tonight with some of the players out.”

The Bulls were also without freshman guard Nikola Rakicevic for tonight’s game. Rakicevic left the team to go back to his native Serbia after the passing of his mother, suddenly, this past Sunday.

The Bulls will play the final game of their three-game home stand with a matchup against Ohio (14-8, 5-5 MAC) on Friday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be watched on ESPNU.

Quentin Haynes is the senior sports editor and can be found at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.comFollow him on Twitter at @HaynesTheWriter