Men’s basketball defeats Central Michigan 60-55
Bulls survive Chippewas’ second-half comeback
UB has had trouble hanging on to leads during its 2019-20 campaign.
Despite the Bulls’ late-game struggles this season, they managed to hang on in a close one Friday. The men’s basketball team (15-9) got off to a great start at home where they defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas (13-9) 65-60.
Head Coach Jim Whitesell chose a different lineup to start the game, giving redshirt freshman forward LaQuill Hardnett his first career start as a Bull. UB got off to a quick start, taking a 25-9 lead with less than eight minutes to go in the first half.
Sophomore forward Jeenathan Williams led the charge with 20 points, 12 of them coming in the first half where he also shot an efficient 5-of-6 from the field.
Whitesell praised Williams after the game.
“In the first half, I loved to see him play in the lane,” Whitesell said. “[Williams] was really sharp defensively for the most part of the game.”
Senior forward Gabe Grant provided a spark off the bench for the Bulls with 8 first-half points, including 2 3-pointers.
The Bulls stuck to their blue-collar ways and showcased their hustle by following up missed lay-ups and cleaning up the boards offensively, with 12 of the Bulls’ 35 first-half points coming from second chance opportunities.
Even though the Bulls had a successful first half, they couldn’t get past their turnover issues, which have been a cloud over their heads all season.
“If you are going to play fast paced, there are going to be some,” Whitesell said. “I am not a big fan of a lot of the turnovers we had tonight, I thought a lot of them were just simple plays … It has to be corrected and it is the first thing they are going to see in practice.”
UB closed out the first half with a 35-19 lead while only allowing the Chippewas to shoot 8-30 from the field and 1-12 from 3-point range.
UB had a rough start to the second half. The Bulls watched their 16-point halftime lead crumble and, at one point, turned the ball over four times in a row.
Senior forward David DiLeo hit 4 threes in the second half to lead the Chippewas’ second-half comeback. Senior guard Kevin McKay also had a strong second half scoring 8 points, finishing the game with 14.
The Bulls had multiple scoring droughts during the second half, allowing Central Michigan to take the lead at one point.
Senior guard Antwain Johnson hit a 3-pointer down the stretch that got fans excited, orchestrating the momentum once again.
“I think his three in the corner was the big thing that got our wind back again” Whitesell said after the game.
Johnson finished the game with 15 points, many coming at important times for the Bulls.
UB took control of the games’ final stretch with a steal by senior guard Davonta Jordan leading to a fast break slam dunk by Williams, capping off his 20-point night.
“Me and coach had a long talk about me being more aggressive, assertive, getting to the glass, playing with more activity,” Williams said.
After two consecutive losses, UB’s win is a step in the right direction.
“We gotta keep working but I do think we can get a lot better,” Whitesell said. “I think we got a ceiling there we can jump, but we gotta clean it up.”
The sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org