The next step for the UB Men’s Basketball team in the up and down 21-22 season came Tuesday night against the Western Michigan Broncos and this was step back up to .500 in MAC play. The Bulls won going away by a final score of 78-64 to get to 8-6 overall and 2-2 in conference.
Josh Mballa and Travon Fagan also stepped back into the lineup after an absence due to COVID protocols and provided a combined 40 minutes and, more importantly, the missing size and production in the frontcourt.
After WMU started hot from the floor in the first half, once leading by as much as 10, the good guys slowly, but steadily, reeled in the beatable opponent. Staring at a 34-33 whole at the half, the second half was a clinic in efficiency by the Blue and White as the home squad’s shooting touch cooled.
Credit the experienced squad for not panicking when they fell behind, but rather steeling themselves to stay the course. This was evident with no player more than Ronaldo Segu. He was calm handling the ball as usual, and led the early stages of the climb back, setting a tone. He has really become the emotional leader of the team and has improved at picking his spots to assert himself when the team needs him to. He finished with 17 points on only 8 shots and no turnovers, in 34 minutes.
Another recent trend was turned on its ear, as the Bulls second half defense was exceptional, allowing only 30 points, and only 15 over the last 13 minutes. Keishawn Brewton was integral with 5 steals. Adding 12 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and a block in 29 minutes, this would have to rate as his best game as a Bull. It was notable that he remained in the starting lineup after the return of Mballa, and that he logged more minutes than Maceo Jack. This pt split bears monitoring going forward, but improved performance, whether in the lineup or off of the bench, from Brewton is hugely welcome in the backcourt.
David Skogman backed up his career game in his last outing with another solid double-double effort, chipping in 14 and 11. He has solidified what was once a big question mark at one of the forward spots. He’ll need to continue this ascent for this team to get where it wants to go, as many of the other ‘bigs’ seem to be unavailable, as LaQuill Hardnett missed the game after injuring his back in the last game. Significant future contributions from him, Bertram, Williamson or Mading seem unlikely.
Overall 5 players reached double figures with Josh Mballa and Jeenathan Williams also doing so. Mballa started slowly in his return, but seemed his normal self by the second half. Jeenathan, however, struggled shooting throughout. Travon Fagan and Curtis Jones gave quality minutes to round out the, maybe semi-permanent, 8-man rotation.
UB looks to stack another win on Friday in Muncie, Indiana against Ball St.