It happened so quickly. Turner Battle three, 10-4 UB. A Mark Bortz Layup, 20-10 UB. A Roderick Middleton jumper, 30-14 UB. This was happening, UB had a sixteen point lead in the 2005 MAC Basketball Tournament Final. My vodka fueled enthusiasm didn't wane as Ohio finished the half on a 19-13 run.
43-33 UB at halftime, the fans in green who had been so boisterous were silent, but telling themselves they had a chance. Play begins again, and UB explodes out of the gate again, three pointer Battle, 52-38. Three pointer Bird, 57-38. Timeout Ohio, Buffalo was nineteen points up and sixteen minutes away from victory.
It happened so quickly, a minute later, the lead was down to fourteen. A minute later, down to ten. Three minutes later the UB was down to two. Leon Williams hit a layup and Ohio had killed a nineteen point lead in six minutes and thirty-seven seconds. The Ohio players, started doing backflips. The fans in green started that stupid chant.O---H---I---O, O--H--I--O, O-H-I-O, O-H-I-O.
Ohio then went up four, but UB stopped the bleeding. A Bortz layup put the Bulls up four with two minutes to go. Despite blowing a massive lead, Buffalo was still in control. It happened so quickly, turnover-missed jumper-turnover, tie game. With thirty-one seconds remaining, UB had the ball in a tie game, but the only shot they got off was a three pointer by Yassin Idbihi, the center. Idbihi had a good shot, however with Jason Bird, Calvin Cage and Turner Battle around, it was silly for the Dream to take an twenty footer. He missed, and the game moved to overtime.
Blind NCAA Selection: Which 6 out of 10 Teams would you put in the Tourney?
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Down four at the start of OT, Calvin Cage took a tired UB team and as always gave them the energy they needed. First a jumper to bring the game within two, then after an Ohio basket, Cage assisted on Mario Jordan's layup. Cage stole the ball on the next possession and found likely tournament MVP Turner Battle who hit a layup and was fouled. In a minute and eight seconds, UB turned a four point deficit into a one point lead.
Ohio's Sonny Troutman responded to put UB down one, with the shot clock turned off, Turner called for the ball and hit a jumper to give UB the lead, only problem, he left twelve seconds on the clock.
Ohio got a good look but UB did a good job cycling over to defend Jeremy Fears, who missed his game winning layup with one missed a lay in with 1 second left, UB had the game.
It all happened so quickly, but that last second took an eternity.
As the defense cycled to Fears, no one boxed out Leon Williams, who was open to tip the miss back into the bucket, just before the buzzer sounded. In a nanosecond, UB went from MAC Champions to losers, Ohio storming the court in victory.
I was out of the Gund in what seemed like seconds, in shock. Ohio fans taunted, fans of other MAC teams taunted, no one wanted to see Buffalo win, the conference was happy. The drive back to Buffalo took one-hundred eighty silent minutes, that went by pretty quickly.
The next day, UB fans built themselves back up, knowing their resume was good enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Buffalo was 22-9 with an RPI of 46, but their name was never called.
2005 NCAA Selections: Bold Teams Received At-Large Bids to 2005 Tournament
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Disappointed, UB played in the NIT, their first ever postseason appearance as a Division 1 team. They earned their first postseason win, defeated Drexel in overtime but eventually fell in the second round to Saint Joseph's who would finish as tournament runner-ups.
This year will be the ten year anniversary of the tip-in, and the 2004-05 team is still the best team UB has had in the Division 1 era. Coughing up the lead started the narrative that Reggie couldn't win the big game, and it eventually led to his dismissal in 2013.
Flutie's Fumble tied the death of the Hardest working team, so now we have a three-way vote. What hurt more, a Bills playoff loss, a Sabres playoff loss, or the Bulls championship loss? Vote below.
Up Next: Terrible Week 17