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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Men’s basketball outclassed by Toledo in 92-76 home defeat

Bulls still struggle to compete with MAC’s elite as the conference tournament approaches

Redshirt sophomore center David Skogman (42) and senior forward Jeenathan Williams (11) walk off the Alumni Arena court.
Redshirt sophomore center David Skogman (42) and senior forward Jeenathan Williams (11) walk off the Alumni Arena court.

UB fans left the stands early Tuesday night as men’s basketball (19-9, 13-5 MAC) fell to the Toledo Rockets (24-6, 16-3 MAC) for the second time this season, this time by a score of 92-76 at Alumni Arena.

The Bulls were riding a nine-game winning streak heading into the contest, but Toledo’s 9-for-17 (53.1%) shooting performance from the three-point line was too much for UB to handle on its senior night.

The Bulls are now 0-3 this season against Toledo and Ohio, the top two teams in the MAC. They have lost all three games by double digits.

“Tough night, give Toledo credit,” head coach Jim Whitesell said after the game. “They played outstanding, they shot the ball really well. We just seemed like we were a step out of sync on both ends, offensively and defensively.”

The Rockets were consistently able to generate wide-open looks as late rotations and miscommunications were a habit for the UB defense.

The offensive end saw similar struggles as the Bulls’ bench scored a startlingly low seven points, all of which were scored with the game’s outcome already decided with less than three minutes remaining.  

While the starters didn’t necessarily play poorly (four of UB’s five starters scored in double digits), the Bulls’ lack of production off the bench against a top-tier opponent is concerning.

Senior forward Jeenathan Williams says it’s up to the veterans of the squad such as senior guard Ronaldo Segu, senior forward Josh Mballa and himself to get the bench, as well as the younger players, in the right state of mind for the upcoming MAC Tournament.

“[It’s] just letting the guys know they’ve got to be ready,” Williams said. “It’s how it goes, sometimes you have nights like this. Going into Cleveland, we’ve just got to let the guys know to be ready.”

Segu scored 20 points, grabbed five rebounds and had five assists while Williams tacked on 18 points on 42.1% shooting. Mballa added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

For Toledo, sophomore guard Ryan Rollins and junior forward Setric Millner Jr. each scored 20 points while junior guard RayJ Dennis dropped 19 to help the Rockets score 20 fastbreak points.

“They [Toledo] play positionless basketball,” Segu said. “So [if] one of them gets it, they just pitch it ahead and we have to get back on defense. That’s the little stuff we just didn’t adjust to and it cost us.”

A 13-2 Toledo run from 16:27 to 14:30 in the first half put UB down 10, a hole the Bulls were unable to dig out of.

From sluggish transition play to stationary offensive sets, the Bulls underperformed in every sense of the word Tuesday night.

Even a one-handed half-court buzzer beater by Segu at the end of the first half couldn’t electrify the stagnant Bulls against the MAC’s top team.

Tensions boiled as Williams picked up a technical foul for arguing with an official with 3:15 to go in the game. As the game was already decided, everyone in Alumni Arena could sense the Bulls’ frustration on senior night.

“We’ve got to be determined. We’ve got to want to win,” Williams said. “We can’t let them jump out on us, get up 15 and never make another punch. We never threw a punch.”

Despite falling to the two top teams in the conference this season, the Bulls don’t suffer from a lack of confidence.

“It’s gonna take determination, urgency and commitment on the defensive end and in following the game plan,” Segu said. “Everybody’s gotta be all in. I’m sure when we get to Cleveland we’ll be ready. It’s hard to beat a team three times.”

UB will conclude the regular season when it takes on the Kent State Golden Flashes (19-9, 14-4 MAC) Friday at 6 p.m. at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center in Kent, OH. The game will be aired nationally on ESPNU.

Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at anthony.decicco@ubspectrum.com and @DeCicco42 on Twitter


ANTHONY DECICCO
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Anthony DeCicco is the Editor-in-Chief of The Spectrum. His words have appeared in outlets such as SLAM Magazine andSyracuse.com. In 2020, he was awarded First Prize for Sports Column Writing at the Society of Professional Journalists' Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. In his free time, he can be found watching ‘90s Knicks games and reading NFL Mock Drafts at 3 a.m. 

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