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Basketball: UB Bulls Fall to Akron, Bowling Green on Super Bowl Sunday

Fouls are the story for both the men and women in road contests today, as the Women drop a 101-92 contest to the Akron Zips and the Men lose composure late in Bowling Green on their way to a 74-68 loss.

Joshua Freelove's big threes went for naught as the Bulls fell to Bowling Green on Sunday.
Joshua Freelove's big threes went for naught as the Bulls fell to Bowling Green on Sunday.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

First Half

Trickle Down Basketball- At the half, the other half of UB's strong frontcourt led all scorers on 13 points. Regan is a good enough player to get his on any night, but when opponents are selling out to cover McCrea, UB really needs to find point from other avenues. Regan delivered in the first half today, scoring Buffalo's first 9 on three triples as UB turned an early 4-0 deficit into a 7 point lead that they wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the half.

Fouls (Men) - At this point, sometimes I'd rather we flip a coin to determine if UB gets a point out of a foul shot rather than go through the rigmarole of actually lining up and tossing the ball at the hoop. The Bulls shot under 50% from the line in the first half, which is pathetic.

Additionally, a back and forth late in the half left a sour taste in Buffalo mouths. After Javon McCrea was called for a travel on the offensive end, he apparently got into some sort of a shouting match with Bowling Green assistant coach Lamonte Stone. I can't remember the specifics, but I know this is not the first or even second time in McCrea's career that opposing coaches have talked directly to him.

Anyway, the end result of this was double technicals on McCrea and the Bowling Green Bench. Which is garbage. Because UB was in the double bonus already, the tech on the Falcons meant nothing, while Javon had to be reigned in and plopped into an offense-defense rotation with Justin Moss to avoid picking up a third foul before the half.

This whole sequence is nothing short of trash. I'm willing to listen to folks who will say that McCrea should know better, but there is no place here for a coach to speak to, much less shout at, an opposing player. And there's certainly no way that that opposing coach - who is a lot older and more experienced than McCrea - should reap all the benefits of goading a 22 year old into a response.

Fouls (Women) - In the waning minutes of the half, UB had the lead in Akron, but Kristin Sharkey and Mackenzie Loesing each picked up their second foul in a quick stretch, which allowed Akron to open up a 51-42 halftime lead on the strength of the double bonus, which both gives you free points and slows the game down.

Poor Finishes - After opening up big leads in their respective first halves, both UB teams let their advantage slip away. For the women, it's a troubling trend that seems to have become the norm in their games regardless of location or opponent. Meanwhile the men are just a different team on the road, as a 32-23 lead dwindled down to just two points at the buzzer thanks to a last second Falcon lay-in.

Second Half

More Fouls - In Bowling Green, Falcons starter Anthony Henderson got called for his 4th for BG only 45 seconds in, while on the women's side, UB had a nice run out of the gate to close the Akron lead, but Christa Baccas picked up HER fourth foul just 2 1/2 minutes in and Akron was quickly able to stretch things out again.

THREElove Gets His Groove Back - For all his timely threes earlier in the year, the senior has gone cold lately. Freelove came into today's game shooting under 20% (2-14) from distance over the last three games, and was able to step up and help out today, hitting four times, two coming on a big swing with only 7 to play to help UB stake a 65-58 lead.

A Game of Runs in Akron - After Baccas' fourth foul, Akron was able to reopen a nine point lead, but Kristen Sharkey's 20th point cut the Zips lead to 4 and forced an Akron timeout early in the second. Shortly after that, the Zips put on a 9-0 run of their own to once again keep the Bulls at more than arm's length.

Offensive Rebounding in Bowling Green - UB got killed on the boards and down low today. Mix that with a complete inability to shoot from the line, and you're making things really difficult for yourself on the road.

Meet me at the Intersection of Hollywood and Moss- Caught in yet another dogfight midway through the second half, it was two newcomers to the Bulls who helped the men keep pace with Bowling Green building momentum in their home building. Evans took it to the rim on a couple possessions, while Moss was able to put in four while Ford took a breather. Regardless of the outcome, the mid-half contributions of these two helped UB stay in it in the middle of a funk.

Interior Play and Pace - The women suffered in their second half as midway through the stanza Forward Christa Baccas had played just 5 minutes total, and the Bulls were unable to make up for her absence in the frontcourt, and were similarly frustrated by the Zips' frenetic pace. Akron would ultimately take this one 101-92.

Mackenzie Loesing had a career-high 30 points, while Kristen Sharkey also hit 30 for the second time in three games. Akron hit triple digits for the second time in three games themselves. Start getting ready now for the rematch in Alumni Arena on Wednesday, March 5th, as UB will look to even the score in the season series between the second and third teams in the East.

Adventures in Pep Band - "You Can Call Me Al" from the Bowling Green band, who has a lot of deep brass and a full sound. Not as good as, and a little more cliche than, "Basket Case", but good nonetheless. Later, they brought out a solid rendition of "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk.

Fouls - McCrea picked up his fourth on a late call heading into the under 4 media time out. With Moss and Ford already sitting on three apiece Hurley was forced to leave McCrea in, only for the senior to foul out as Bowling Green drove to tie the game with 2:47 left.

Bobby Hurley was called for a tech on the call, and if there was any doubt that the first year head coach has developed a reputation in the MAC, we know for sure now. The simple fact of the matter is that Hurley has to stay composed there. While McCrea was the victim of Lamonte Stone's hysterics in the first half, this foul call was just. Hurley's outburst completely energized the crowd and allowed Bowling Green to go on a 9 point run almost entirely from the line.

The UB Drought - In fact, it was even worse than that, as with a minute to play Bowling Green was sitting on a 11-1 run over nearly 6 minutes, with UB's only points since the Freelove threes coming on a McCrea free throw. While Hurley's T energized the crowd, Bowling Green already had the momentum, and the tech just iced it.

A disappointing showing from the men today, who could not capitalize on Bowling Green's foul trouble, whether from the line or by going after the Falcons with four fouls. Once again UB played a lesser team on the road and let it get away from them, and once again a hot first half was quite frankly pissed away by bad play in the second.

This stings even more, because a win would have brought the Bulls into a three way tie for first in the East with Akron and Ohio. Instead we reap no benefits from the Zip's Saturday loss, and lose ground to the Bobcats.

On the Women's side, this loss hurts a bit less, as the combination of Akron's pace and a road game combined to sink the UB efforts. That said, it takes a lot of resolve to keep fighting back as Akron continued to pull away, and UB was able to keep it within reach till the end.

Furthermore, the loss in Akron has a little less significant implications for the women, who were never going to catch Bowling Green for the division lead. If UB can hold serve until the home rematch with the Zips in early March, they'll have a chance for payback and a shot at a bye in the MAC Tourney.

UB next plays on Wednesday and Thursday, as the men host Ball State on the fifth, and the women Ohio on the 6th.

Javon McCrea is now just 126 points away from Rasaun Young's school record of 1,908.