Thursday night witnessed Josh Mballa launch himself into the program’s history books.
Mballa, a senior forward from Bordeaux, France, became the 26th player in UB history to score 1,000 career points, a feat he accomplished with his second basket of the night.
His 14 points helped men’s basketball (18-8, 11-4 MAC) beat Northern Illinois (8-19, 5-12 MAC), 79-65, for the Bulls’ eighth straight win.
Senior forward Jeenathan Williams dominated the floor again with a stellar 28 points and three assists, while senior guard Ronaldo Segu netted 19 points and added six assists, two blocks and two steals.
Sophomore center David Skogman finished with a game-high nine rebounds — another impressive performance for the 6-10 big man.
Collectively, UB maintained a 45-33 advantage on the glass, and proved why it is the conference leader in three-point field-goal percentage defense: it allowed NIU to shoot only 27.8% from behind the arc; the Huskies were 0-for-7 from three in the second half.
UB’s synchronization suffered near the end of the first half, as its weak defense gave Huskies senior forward Zool Kueth the green light to land a three-point jumper, bringing NIU’s lead to 22-16 with 6:50 left.
But defensive rejuvenation allowed UB to hold NIU scoreless for the final two minutes of the half and score six straight, giving the Bulls a 37-32 lead at the half.
The Bulls quickly went on a 7-2 run to gain a 49-38 lead with 16:32 left in the second half.
Freshman guard Curtis Jones’ layup gave UB its biggest lead of the night, with a 16 point advantage at 62-46.
NIU fought back and cut the lead to seven, before Williams kickstarted a 7-0 run to lead the Bulls to an 11-point victory.
The Bulls and Huskies will face off again on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Alumni Arena.
Sophie McNally is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Sophie McNally is an assistant sports editor at The Spectrum. She is a history major studying abroad for a year from Newcastle University in the UK. In her spare time, she can be found blasting The 1975 or Taylor Swift and rowing on a random river at 5 a.m.