Looking to recover from three straight losses, the last two in MAC play, the Bulls were in search of their first win over a D1 opponent since December 8th. Taking control through the meat of the second half, UB was able to accomplish this defeating Bowling Green by a final score of 99-88. Will the past stretch ultimately be a ‘lost month’ that’s part of the narrative of a good season, or will they stay mired in the inconsistency that has crept into their performances? If the former bears out, we may well look back on this victory as a key building block.
The Bulls largely controlled play and led, although a few runs by BG did have the Bulls on their heals at times, notably at the end of the first half and, for the last time, about the 12 minutes mark of the second half. From there, the Bulls executed pretty well to outscore any continuing defensive deficiencies. That said, they will need to be able to get stops in the second half of games better than they did at times against the Falcons, as well as continue to limit their turnovers.
Again playing without Josh Mballa and Travon Fagan due to COVID protocols and Brock Bertram and Zaakir Williamson due to injury and also now missing Kuluel Mading and Jamon Bivens, the Bulls were significantly shorthanded, especially on the frontline. To make matters worse, LaQuill Hardnett seemingly re-aggravated a previous injury and managed only four minutes. The team got heavy minutes and production from some players not traditionally relied upon so heavily.
David Skogman set career highs with 20 points and 15 boards in 34 minutes, playing a complete game after battling to win the tip and hitting a three on the first possession to get off and running. This was the most complete game Skogman has played since joining the program, if not also the best. His rebounding was key in still out-rebounding BG without Mballa, a key to the Bulls getting limiting the impact of missing their best rebounder. His continued development will be key as the season progresses and into next season when he’ll assume a larger role.
Curtis Jones scored 11, including three, three-pointers, in 27 minutes, finally combining some outside shooting touch with a well rounded floor game. He contributed 4 rebounds, assists, a block and a steal without committing a turnover. His ability to handle some minutes running the offense is key to keeping Ronaldo Segu fresh and effective. Any scoring he can contribute off the ball is a bonus, but he did just that Wednesday night.
The usual suspects did their damage as well, with Rondo Segu pouring in 20 with 7 assists and largely controlled pace an executed in the half court. Jeenathan Williams got his, totalling an efficient 21 on 14 fg attempts, although he did commit 5 turnovers. Maceo Jack returned to form somewhat, adding 16 and 2 deep balls to, hopefully, break out of a shooting slump in recent action.
The return of Coach Whitesell was nice to see, although he admitted his staff had done most of the game planning with him just cleared to return to the team on gameday. Credit his staff for having the team ready to play during his absence.
Overall, the team had much more energy and edge, even on a low-key night in Alumni Arena and righted the listing ship. Building on this with some much needed wins will have to wait a bit as the Bulls don’t play this weekend and will next lace them up next week Tue and Fri on the road at W Mich and Ball State, respectively. If the Bulls can get healthy, stabilize and stack some wins up in conference, they still can accomplish many of the goals they would have had before the season.