Barring a massive snowstorm between Philadelphia and Buffalo, the UB Men's Basketball team will finally return to Alumni Arena in less than a week to face Drexel.
UB's now-six game roadtrip came to an end this afternoon in Pittsburgh, where the Bulls easily defeated the Robert Morris Colonials for the second straight year, 74-59, thanks to four players in double-digit scoring.
I myself felt that after the Bulls' road loss to St. Bonaventure, in which the absence of two key bench players and an especially poor first half compounded into a game it's better to forget, that the Colonials were in for a rough afternoon against a Bulls team looking to get on the right track. It took ten minutes, but after a very sloppy early period, that's pretty much how it went.
As always, key takeaways in bold:
There's not a lot of good to say about the early going. Robert Morris, who scored the first bucket but never led again, was flying around the court and UB tried to match their intensity. The thing is, Robert Morris isn't very good and it may have been an elaborate trick just to bring Buffalo down to their level. Through nearly ten minutes of play, UB led 11-8 but each tean had more turnovers - 5 - than made field goals.
After the St. Bonaventure game, you had to be concerned about UB's bench depth. The good news is Rodell Wigginton returned, and Mory Diane got in early. The bad news is Xavier Ford remained out, and Diane didn't play well: In two minutes the freshman badly missed a three and two free throws. Wigginton himself was only 1 for 6 shooting in the first half.
The second ten minutes were a lot better as RMU slowed down a bit, and UB was more precise. In the span of a few minutes UB was quickly up nine and in control, thanks in particular to Lamonte Bearden, who had his shooting touch in the lane back from the Canisius game, and Will Regan, who had as strong a half as we've seen from him in 2014.
The Colonials closed the deficit a bit to trail by ten at half, at which point Regan led a very balanced UB scoring effort with 9 points, while Jarryn Skeete and Justin Moss shared the team lead with 4 rebounds a piece. The Bulls as a whole had an encouraging 8 assists.
The second half progressed pretty similarly to the first, with RMU enjoying a slight advantage in the early going but never getting within 7. Justin Moss picked up his third foul early, but RMU's leading scorer Marcquise Reid had similar issues.
For UB, the run came a bit earlier in the second half, before the under-twelve, as Skeete hit a three and Wigginton converted on a fast break to build a 15-point lead at 46-31 that pretty much ended the game but for letting the clock run down. The Bulls' strong defense and continued efficient offense just kept the home team well out of it, as the Colonials ended the game with 24 turnovers.
Only a late scuffle that resulted in the ejection of UB's Mory Diane and RMU's Lionel Gomis for coming off the bench delayed the inevitable, as the final ten minutes or so just ticked away until the 74-59 final, which was a little closer than much of the second half thanks to a late RMU run against Bobby Frasco and Christian Pino.
Really the only negatives for UB in this one were Wigginton's 3-12 shooting and Moss' 8 turnovers. Otherwise, UB flashed a balanced offense, as all five starters approached or passed double-digits, led by Moss' twenty. RMU's late run actually pushed their shooting percentage above UB's, but the visitors enjoyed 10 offensive rebounds and 8 fast break points.
UB's game against Drexel will wait to after finals week, and the two teams will square off in Alumni Arena at 7:00 PM on Tuesday the 16th.