Maybe a little home cooking was just what the doctor ordered for the suddenly swooning UB Bulls, who returned to Alumni Arena this evening to a strong crowd of students and got back on track with a 77-71 win over the Western Michigan Broncos.
The final line is significant for a pair of reasons. The Bulls remain undefeated at home this season, and gain a measure of revenge against the Broncos, who held the Blue and White to 30% shooting throughout in their first matchup of the season. Each game this week is critical for Buffalo to work back to the top of the MAC, as both WMU and Friday night's opponent Kent State came into tonight above UB in the standings.
We'll save the larger storylines for the usual takeaways tomorrow. In tonight's vacuum, the story is Buffalo's continued inability to hit anything from distance and Justin Moss' continued dominance as the Bulls moved to 4-3 in MAC play. Prior to this season, UB had just one game in the past 20 years with no three-pointers. Tonight they nearly had their second of the season after missing their first 13 attempts, and finished 2-19 from distance.
Despite that, UB pulled away on a 18-4 run midway through the second half for a 61-50 lead with 7:00 to play en route to the six-point win. Moss, of course, led the Bulls with 23 points and 10 boards
Shannon Evans continues to slump, even as no one talks about it, following up 20 points in his last two games combined with just six tonight, though four came late as Buffalo kept the Broncos at bay. Even worse, Jarryn Skeete seems to have lose all game rhythm, missing his first six shots, including five attempts from distance before burying a three during that critical run. He finished 2-11 from the floor.
In contrast, Lamonte Bearden had a do-everything type of night, with 6 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in 28 minutes. He in particular was strong defensively, forcing several turnovers early and blocking a late three-point attempt in the waning seconds.
Late in the game, play flowed quickly after that run, though David Brown in the blink of an eye drew Western Michigan within seven at the final media timeout. Knowing the star power of Brown, Bulls fans were setting up for a nervewracking finish, UB quickly got a couple of steals and transition points to re-extend the lead.
Before all of that, we had a tight affair early, with UB holding a lead to 21-15 before trailing 35-33 at the break and into a good chunk of the second half. Will Regan missed a buzzer-beater for the lead, which dropped UB to 0-9 from beyond the arc in the half, while the Broncos were 7-13 themselves.
One huge positive on the team stat line was 21 assists to just 8 turnovers on 31 made field goals. Buffalo also scored 28 points off 18 WMU turnovers. The Broncos got 29 points from David Brown, but were without Austin Richie for the entire game.
UB next plays Friday night at Kent State. It's a 10:00 PM tip, but it's also on ESPNU. It's up to you to decide how you feel about that, but it will be a very different atmosphere from the family-friendly Saturday afternoon tipoff that was originally scheduled.