Men’s basketball (15-16, 9-9 MAC) defeated Miami (OH) (12-19, 6-12 MAC) 68-63 on Friday night at Alumni arena, securing the Bulls the No. 6 seed in the MAC Tournament. UB rallied from behind despite missing leading scorer and sophomore guard Curtis Jones due to sickness. Junior forward Isiah Adams, who had a team-high 16 points, was the engine behind the Bulls’ success.
Before the opening tip, the Bulls honored two seniors: forward LaQuill Hardnett and guard Armoni Foster. The Star Spangled Banner followed senior night celebrations, sung by Hardnett’s mother, Anita Hardnett.
“I was nervous out there to start the game, I had to get a hold of myself,” Hardnett said postgame. “I’m 9-0 when my mom sings the national anthem.”
The Bulls struggled early on in the first half, shooting 11-32 from the field, falling behind 38-29 at half. UB found trouble holding on to possessions with six turnovers and a number of offensive fouls. Miami closed out the half by going on a 27-18 run.
“I think in the first half we didn’t have Curtis [Jones] and we were a little bit out of sync offensively,” Bulls head coach Jim Whitesell said.
Coming out of halftime, the Bulls went on a scoring rampage with 13-straight unanswered points.
“Coming out of half the first four minutes, basically we think that’s where the game is decided. It could get worse or it could get better,” Hardnett said. This four-point lead continued to grow as the men found their stride offensively. They pushed the score to 49-43, the Bulls’ largest lead of the night.
UB put together a powerful second-half performance to push past the Redhawks. Miami senior forward Anderson Mirambeaux led both teams with 18 points in a close game that went down to the final minutes.
“In the second half we played with a lot of purpose and heart. I thought we played with a lot more defensive purpose,” Whitesell said.
The game was tight until the end. The Bulls were able to seal it by cashing in on six-straight free throws, which was the dagger to cap off the comeback win.
On their senior night, Hardnett finished with 13 points and five rebounds in 35 minutes and Foster finished with four points and four assists in 31 minutes.
Whitesell says he is confident in the team going into the playoffs in the coming week.
“This group can compete with anyone [and] our guys feel confident,” he said. “I’m really positive and happy about that [and] I saw some growing up out there”.
Whitesell closed the postgame press conference with a message to his team.
“You’ve earned your way into Cleveland, now you’ve got to go. Everything is one game [and] it’s all about going 1-0.”
The Bulls travel to Cleveland, Ohio next week for the MAC Tournament. They’re set to face the Akron Zips (21-10, 13-5 MAC) on Thursday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
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