Men’s basketball (11-7) defeated Central Michigan (6-14) 85-73 Thursday afternoon at Alumni Arena. With the win, the Bulls clinched a spot in the upcoming Mid-American Conference tournament.
UB has now also won 11 straight games against the Chippewas.
The Bulls came out aggressive on the defensive end and forced CMU to commit 11 turnovers in the first half.
UB struggled to find its rhythm from beyond the arc, shooting 1-14 in the first half. Despite their struggles, the Bulls were able to finish the half on a 7-0 run, giving them a 37-29 lead going into the break.
Junior guard Ronaldo Segu drove to the basket and scored with a beautiful right-handed layup high off the glass before time expired to end the first half. The 7-0 run was a turning point in the contest and gave UB momentum going into the second half.
“It just gives us a great spark to the second half,” Segu said. “It just sparks it up for the second half to come out with heads up high, great energy and ready to win the game.”
Segu finished the game with 14 points, 11 assists and four rebounds, recording a double-double.
The Bulls came out firing in the second half, hitting three straight three pointers.
Sophomore forward Laquill Hardnett continued his hot stretch as he scored a career-high 20 points while shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. Hardnett came down with 10 rebounds, securing his first career double-double.
Hardnett, a sophomore forward from Philadelphia, PA, says he believes he is benefiting from having other talented scorers on the floor with him, which allows him to make the most of his opportunities.
“Everybody is always worried about the other four guys I’m out there with, some prolific scorers that I run with,” Hardnett said. “I’m usually one on one, I just got to keep my head on the rim and finish. We’ve been working on finishing all week.”
Hardnett, who transferred from the University of Cincinnati following the 2018-19 season, has been extremely efficient from the field, shooting 16-for-17 in his last five games.
The Bulls got to the free-throw line 17 times in the second half, knocking 12 down from the charity stripe. UB continued its dominant presence in the paint, finishing with 50 points down low. The entire Bulls starting five ended up scoring in double-digits.
Senior guard Jayvon Graves scored 15 points while grabbing four rebounds and two steals. The St-Vincent St-Mary alum became the 11th leading scorer in UB history, passing Rob Middlebrooks (1988-1992).
Junior forward Jeenathan Williams racked up 17 points and four rebounds. Junior forward Josh Mballa nearly finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine boards.
Head coach Jim Whitesell says his team has to keep up its defensive intensity against Ohio but notes that he sees steady progress.
“We’re going to be really challenged against Ohio because they’re excellent offensively,” Whitesell said. “But I see a lot of improvement with it.”
The Bulls have won five of their last six games, but Coach Whitesell wants his team to keep their momentum going, especially with the MAC Tournament looming.
“We got to keep building off this. We’ve won five out of the last six, that’s progress,” Whitesell said. “Big game on Saturday, but you know I’ll take it and go back and watch a lot of tape right now.”
The Bulls look to extend their win streak to three games on Saturday when they travel to Athens, OH to take on the Ohio Bobcats. The game will be aired on ESPN+.
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