Facing a must-win for their tournament seeding hopes this afternoon against Central Michigan, UB once again fell limp in the second half, seeing a strong first half frittered away by the Chippewas' three-point barrage and missing a last-second shot that would have won the game.
CMU took the game 75-74 after erasing a 13-point hafltime deficit. Every Bull that saw the floor scored, save Christian Pino, but Justin Moss was a near-nonfactor for much of the game and finished with 13 points. CMU shot just 1-8 from three in the first half, but erased the deficit and took a lead on the strength of 5-10 shooting from beyond the arc in the second.
In the first matchup between these two teams, it was the halftime break and later media timeouts in which Keno Davis out-wiled Bobby Hurley. Today the Chippewas were able to quickly erase the halftime deficit thanks to an 8-2 run and two very fast triples from Josh Kozinski, and maintained that lead with continued strong shooting as the game wiled away.
UB hit a number of big shots to tie the game with less than a minute to play, but Lamonte Bearden fouled Chris Fowler late in CMU's last possession, and Buffalo's attempt for a 76-75 buzzer-beating win fell off the front rim. Once again against the Chippewas UB struggled schematically at both ends of the court after the break, notably failing to hit much of anything from outside as the visitors packed the lane in the second half.
But other than an early 7-0 run from the visitors, Buffalo had the advantage through much of the first half, playing strong defense even through far too many foul calls. Jarryn Skeete in particular played well on the offensive end with 14 first-half points, and Raheem Johnson, Will Regan, and even Christian Pino gave the Bulls quality minutes as Moss and Xavier Ford were forced to the bench.
Skeete led the Bulls with 19 points at the final buzzer, but CMU's Chris Fowler was unstoppable all game and led all scorers with 22 points. Buffalo shot only 32% from the floor after halftime despite hitting more than half their shots in the first stanza. The loss marks Buffalo's third straight over all and second straight in Alumni Arena, and you have to think that at 6-6, they're now solidified below the tier of teams who are going to manage MAC Tournament byes, barring total chaos and a six-game win streak to end the season.
UB may be a great team at times, and they may be better next year. But right now only eight contributors is not enough when someone's having an off day, injured, or simply schemed out of the game, as Moss was today. Many of you have been saying it all year and now we're seeing the fruits.
UB continues the two-on, two-off regularity of their schedule with a pair of road games next week. First, they'll take on Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti Wednesday. It likely doesn't mean much for tiebreakers, since the Bulls probably can't afford to get a top-four seed with anything worse than a six-game win streak to close out the season.