As the UB Men’s Basketball team draws closer to the end of the season and the MAC Tournament, they need every win they can get. They ticked one off the schedule Thursday afternoon in Alumni Arena.
Defeating the Central Michigan Chippewas by a, closer than expected, score of 85-73, the Bulls maintained their place in the standings as they prepare to face the team ahead of them. They will look to draw even on Saturday against the Ohio Bobcats at 2pm on ESPN+.
Wearing their home white uniforms, the team followed a familiar formula showing good energy to take an early lead as the Chips came in without their leading scorer and their starting PG. Credit to coach Keno Davis and his squad; using an early timeout after UB jumped out 6-0, he made clear to his team that every reason they had to go through the motions would not be accepted and they didn’t. From that point on, the game was contested as well as can be expected given their disadvantages and they gave the Bulls all they could handle.
LaQuill Hardnett was the big story as he set new career highs in points and rebounds, and recorded his first double-double, with 20 and 10 in 34 minutes of action. He was a perfect 6-6 from the floor, including a 3 pointer and added 2 blocks, 2 steals, an assist and had only 1 turnover and 1 foul. He has seemingly outgrown his penchant for multiple, quick fouls as he has improved immensely as the season has progressed. This was by far his best game as a Bull and you are seeing the realization of the ability that was forecasted when he was being recruited. His emergence has allowed Buffalo to put five high quality players on the floor to start and end games and to stabilize the bench rotation used to support the starting lineup.
Ronaldo Segu’s first career double-double would have made him the player of the game most nights, as he went for 14 points and 11 assists. Turning the ball over only twice, he showed a continued evolution in patience leading the team and executing the offensive sets the coaching staff wants run.
When We Knew it Was Decided
A modest 8-2 run to bulge the lead to 18, culminating with just under five minutes remaining was probably the last charge of merit the Bulls had fend off. From there, they avoided mistakes down the stretch and got the car in the garage.
Recent norms continued in other ways as the team was just 5-22 from deep, although they did improve to 4-8 after the break, and scored another 50 points in the paint. This version of the team seems best continually attacking the basket and only taking the threes they can’t turn down. As a team they had 20 assists on 32 made field goals and only committed 12 turnovers, quality numbers given their tempo and style. Bulls were 16-22 from the stripe in one of their better showings in that department.
It seems possible, if not likely, that old nemesis Ohio will be their opponent in the opening round of the conference tournament, so this weekends game is not only a chance to exact some revenge for an earlier loss to the Bobcats, but a chance to set a tone for any showdown in Cleveland. Closing out with the current second and third place Akron and Kent St give the home side a chance to establish that they can beat quality opponents before tipping off in the Q (I will likely always consider Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse’s true name, ‘The Q’).