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Buffalo Bulls 89, Central Michigan Chippewas 84: VICTORY in the 2015 MAC Tournament Championship

UB Athletics

By now, I don't need to tell you what happened. You've heard it elsewhere.

Facing the prospect of their first conference championship since joining the MAC, and their first entry into the NCAA Tournament in program history*, the Bulls DID IT, winning 89-84.

*Division I tournament, I know. Don't correct me.

What else do you need to know?

I could give you a key player, but really, it was UB's defense and ball security in the second half that won the game. Justin Moss, obviously still hampered with an ankle sprain, bulldogged his way to 10 points and 11 rebounds in a game that we will never forget.

Chris Fowler was near-unstoppable for CMU, finishing with 27, but the Chippewas were "only" 8-22 from three and could not keep up with UB's balanced offense: Five Bulls hit double-digits, and two more had eight and nine points.

In two regular-season victories this season, the Chippewas and MAC Coach of the Year Keno Davis outscored Buffalo 89-57 in the second half. Knowing that, it was hard to be any less nervous after UB hit the break with a slim 42-39 lead. Four straight CMU points out of the break led to a back and forth stretch not unlike yesterday, but the Bulls built a five-point lead on Will Regan's three with 13:32 to play and led by three or more nearly the entire rest of the way.

I will have to double check later, but I believe UB went more than 20 straight possessions without a turnover in that half, as CMU just couldn't slow the Buffalo offense. The lead stretched to eight at times, large enough to hold firm even through two straight turnovers and a handful of missed free throws late as Rodell Wigginton injured his wrist somewhere in the dying minutes.

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Though it slowed down, the first half had started out as a barnburner,with no whistles in the first five mintes and a 12-12 deadlock at the first media timeout. The pace slowed slightly, but each offense found success; Central Michigan through their customary hot shooting, and Buffalo thanks to a number of offensive boards.

Buffalo at times forced too many threes on offense and struggled to contain Chippewas guard Chris Fowler, who off screens frequently found himself matched up on a hobbled Moss. But energy guys Xavier Ford and Rodell Wigginton pulled Buffalo through a 10-0 run late in the half as Buffalo pushed the pace.

The three-point lead at the break was built on eight offensive rebounds and 11 points from Ford. It didn't feel slow, but at 32 positions was more than 10% slower than UB's normal pace.

Buffalo shot 49% from the floor and pulled down an astonishing 13 offensive rebounds. This team is going to be very, very dangerous in that Big Dance that I keep hearing about.

UB's next game is obviously up in the air, but we'll know tomorrow, and you know we'll have you covered as the news comes down. Go Bulls