MAC: Buffalo Survives Central Michigan, Moves onto Ball State

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo has a habit of losing late leads, tonight they came a hairs breadth away from doing it again.

Rapheal Thomas Edwards played the unlikely role of hero in the first half and he did it when the Bulls needed him the most. With Javon McCrea shaking off a hit to the head the often unseen role player came out and scored ten points to help keep Buffalo within reach of the surprisingly competitive Chips.

Central Michigan was led by Kyle Randall who scored 31 points including an amazing NBA three to tie the game with less than a minutes left. Unlike the last contest between these two teams Randall got meaningful offensive and defensive contributions from his supporting cast. Chris Folwer scored 13 points and had eight assist.

McCrea shook off the first half injury to put up 21 points and eight rebounds. Will Regan scored 15 points including three three point shots. Tony Watson was unusually cold for most of the game, missing his first seven three point shots before he finally connected from distance. Watson added six assist to his 14 points despite going just 1-10 from beyond the arc.

Central Michigan took advantage of McCrea's injury opening up an eight point lead early in the first half. But halfway through the period McCrea reentered the game and the Bulls surged back, taking the lead within three minutes and holding it for most of the half.

The second half saw Auraum Nuiriankh and Jarryn Skeete both have to leave the game with injuries and it saw Central Michigan enter the bonus just more than ten minutes in. Then the game played out like so many games the Bulls have played this season.

Buffalo surged with about five minuted left. Regan and Watson hit back to back three pointers and the defense tightened down on the chips helping the Bulls build a seven point lead (65-58) with three minutes and eighteen seconds left. Around that time the Bulls also entered the bonus.

Unphased by the deficit Kyle Randall took the chips on his shoulders. He culminated the effort with a long three point shot at the 20 second mark to tie the game at 67. Buffalo had one more chance to win the game in regulation but the Bulls were smothered by the CMU defense and unable to put up a quality shot.

In overtime Javon McCrea took over and scored the first four points of the frame and six of UB's seven. Central Michigan got a three point shot from John Simons to pull within one before McCrea and Randall traded free throws. The win was sealed for Buffalo when Tony Watson II pulled down a rebound off of a middes three by Blake Hibbitts which would have given the Chips a two point lead with seven seconds left.

Three Point Shot...

Point 1) Tony Watson's "awful" night

Watson was useless shooting threes tonight. The senior 1-10 and some of them were not even close. But those kind of nights happen. The only frustrating part was watching Watson go back to the three over and over again when he has other tools that were working fine.

Only one of ten from three points and he still put up 14 points, six assist, and four rebounds, including the rebound that sealed the win.

I know the philosophy is "the only way to end a bad run is to keep shooting" does have some merit but Watson is a complete enough player to kill you several ways, after the first half he should have picked another tool to bludgeon the chips with.

Point 2) McCrea, now with "Clutch Mode"

Say something from Javon in overtime that he may have been missing... Clutch!

McCrea can crank out double double's with hardly any effort but he has yet to define himself as that guy who you want taking the last shot. Tonight in overtime he played his best ball at the most critical juncture of the contest.

Point 3) Worst 180 second team in Division 1

Is there any team who plays worse than UB in the last three minutes of a game. This was the 6th time in the last 7 games UB had either a lead, or a chance to win in the last minute and could not put the game away.

That play, the one the Bulls got with 20 seconds left, was wholly unacceptable. You're lucky if you win one game with that kind of late play let alone make a run in a conference tournament.

Central Michigan Chippewas
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Blake Hibbitts, F 40 3-13 1-9 1-2 1 8 0 0 1 1 3 8
John Simons, F 27 3-5 3-5 0-0 1 2 0 0 0 0 4 9
Kyle Randall, G 45 10-20 3-6 8-8 2 7 1 0 0 3 1 31
Chris Fowler, G 39 5-8 0-0 3-4 0 1 9 5 0 3 1 13
Derrick Richardson, G 19 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 0 1 1 3 2
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Zach Saylor, F 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Finis Craddock, G 19 2-4 0-1 0-0 2 2 0 1 1 0 2 4
Austin Keel, G 13 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Olivier Mbaigoto, F 18 2-8 1-2 0-0 1 4 1 0 0 0 2 5
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
26-63 8-24 12-14 8 26 12 6 3 9 16 72
41.3% 33.3% 85.7%
Buffalo Bulls
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Javon McCrea, F 36 8-10 0-0 5-7 4 8 2 3 4 5 3 21
W Regan 41 5-11 3-6 2-2 4 8 1 0 1 0 1 15
Tony Watson II, G 45 6-17 1-10 1-2 0 4 6 1 0 4 3 14
Auraum Nuiriankh, G-F 37 2-8 1-3 0-0 1 8 5 1 4 0 2 5
Jarryn Skeete, G 40 1-7 0-2 4-4 2 6 1 0 0 5 1 6
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Cameron Downing, C 13 1-1 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 3
Raphell Thomas-Edwards, F 13 4-5 2-2 0-0 1 4 0 0 0 0 2 10
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
27-59 7-23 13-17 12 38 15 5 9 15 16 74
45.8% 30.4% 76.5%
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