The Buffalo Bulls and the Toledo Rockets squared off in the MAC Championship game today, both teams looking to punch their tickets to the big dance. This piece will give a brief half by half break down before a much more in depth recap will be available later.
The game opened up with the Rockets taking a 5-0 lead and seeming to control the pace of this game. Without the MAC POTY Tre'Shaun Fletcher, it was pretty clear that Toledo wanted as few possessions in this match up with the speedy Bulls.
As the game continued, the Bulls seemed to find a slight rhythm, featuring a Jeremy Harris three, however they never got running like they needed. It seemed that only Dontay Caruthers wanted to push the tempo, as he kept attacking the rim. The Bulls were not sparked by this however, and they seemed to just want to hang around Toledo.
Then after a sloppy stretch in the game, the Bulls seemed to turn up their defense, got out in transition and began to make a run. It started with an Ikenna Smart dunk, and continued as the Bulls made a 9-0 run to take the lead.
Toledo followed with an and one of their own by Marreon Jackson, but couldn't seem to slow the Bulls, who rode back to back Wes Clark lay ups to a 34-29 lead at the half.
As the second half got going, the Bulls seemed energized as Wes Clark started to take over on offense. Bulls lead was at 8 when Nick Perkins got a big technical foul. By the U16 timeout the lead was 46-40 for the Bulls.
After the timeout, the Rockets seemed to catch fire, as they got to the line and forced turnovers. A Willie Jackson two pointer got the game to 49-47 before a Jeremy Harris three point basket extended the Bulls lead and got the UB fans on their feet!
However despite the UB energy, the Bulls could not pull away. The Rockets continued to hit big shots, and their fans came alive. Toledo had the Bulls lead down to just 2 points, before Nick Perkins answered with a tough basket inside. With just 6:51 remaining, the Bulls led 59-55
The Bulls lead quickly vanished though, as timely Toledo 3 pointers tied the game up at 63 all. Wes Clark then went off on a tear, hitting every mid range jumper and pushing the Bulls lead back to 65-63 with just 3:57 left in this championship game.
Out of the timeout, Wes Clark hit two free throws, and the Bulls began to get multiple stops. Then Nick Perkins stepped in to a huge three pointer to push the lead to 7. The Bulls regained possession and with 2:13 left it was 70-63.
While the Rockets tried to make it interesting, Wes Clark and Nick Perkins made it too much and the Bulls won the MAC title 76-66 for the third time in four years! The Bulls find out where they play tomorrow!