BUFFALO, NY - Coming off a disappointing and heartbreaking loss in Brooklyn against Manhattan College on Saturday, the UB Bulls' final home game before Christmas break had all the makings of a trap game.
Even with a sluggish and sloppy start, the Bulls (5-4) used a 36-7 run in the final stages of the first half and beginning stages of the second, to down the Binghamton Bearcats (2-9) 87-57 at Almuni Arena, Monday afternoon.
"I think we're getting mentally tough," said Bulls head coach Bobby Hurley. "The ability to bounce back is not an easy thing… They responded the right way by being tough and wanting to feel good about yourselves and our basketball team and it starts with your leaders."
Binghamton led by five early on 23-20 with 5:44 left in the first half. At that time, the Bulls scored eight straight, and 20 of the final 24 first half points to lead 40-27 at the break.
An Xavier Ford layup inside, and transition layups by Javon McCrea and Will Regan propelled the Bulls to a fast second-half start. UB opened the second half on a 16-3 run and led 56-30 with 15:45 to play.
"We talk about it, the first four minutes of the second half, especially with the run we went on to close out the first half," said Hurley. "We wanted to continue that momentum… We wanted to come out strong and try and break the game open and these guys did a great job of doing that."
Hurley shuffled his starting lineup for the first time this season, inserting Xavier Ford in for Jarryn Skeete. Skeete, who is shooting just 28 percent from the floor this season, was held to just two points with no field goal makes, while Ford scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds.
Regan scored a season-high 18 points as he went 7-for-10 from the floor and pulled down seven rebounds - six offensive.
"(Will) really had a nose to the ball and was dialed in to being physical in the paint," said Hurley. "We exploited them in those areas and then stepping away from the basket. It's great when Will has that mixture of hitting the perimeter shot and going inside and mixing it up."
"I wasn't really finding my shot (earlier in the season," said Regan. "For me I know that I've learned to I can get a lot on the offensive glass… As a player you know your times going to come and you keep doing what you can control and then everything will fall into place."
McCrea hit double figures for the eighth time in nine games this season scoring 25 points. He tied a season-high in rebounds with 14, seven coming on the offensive glass. The senior stuffed the stat sheet with four assists, three blocks, three steals and no turnovers.
UB began the game slow and played with a sluggish pace. They allowed Binghamton to get inside and connect on some easy buckets near the rim. Midway through the first half, the switch turned on defensively for the Bulls and they began forcing bad passes and ball pressure, leading to some easy baskets.
On offense, the Bulls took care of the basketball and were sharp with their passes. They committed a season-low, seven turnovers. Jarod Oldham was held to just two points, but dished out nine assists while committing zero turnovers.
The Bulls will take the court twice more before conference play begins, and next on Dec. 29 when they travel to face Drexel at 2 pm.
Feature photo courtesy of BuffaloBulls.com