The road-heavy first half of UB's MAC schedule is nearly over, and the Bulls helped themselves early tonight en route to a 73-68 win in Toledo over the Rockets to move to 5-3 in the MAC. It was only UB's third-ever win at the Rockets' Savage Arena.
Like Western Michigan against them a week ago, Buffalo came out hot, hitting 8-12 from distance to start the game and holding a large lead deep into the second half. Unlike Western Michigan, Buffalo closed cold, holding on in the final minutes of a prolonged second half for the narrow win.
CJ Massinburg and Blake Hamilton both played well, hitting three threes apiece and finishing with 13 and 17 points, respectively, while Lamonte Bearden and Rodell Wigginton also hit double digits. Hamilton led all scorers and Massinburg also all players with four steals.
This was not a pretty game for UB by any means, even as they never trailed. The fouls came early and late and often - grossly more than from Toledo. The three point shooting cooled dramatically after the hot start - the Bulls finished the first half on an 0-7 stretch beyond the arc. Worst of all, despite the big lead, UB found themselves entirely without momentum midway through the second as the Rockets closed the lead to within five and a single possession for the final stretch. The two teams combined to turn the ball over 36 times.
Even in losses this season, the Bulls have found success in limiting their opponent's top options, and tonight against the Rockets they slowed forward Nathan Boothe for much of the game even as he finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Four different Rockets had three or more turnovers.
The win is a big one for Buffalo, who are now 3-2 on the road in the MAC. They'll finish the regular season with 7 of 10 games at home. At 5-3 in-conference, UB can certainly position themselves for a bye in the conference tournament if they only hold serve in those critical games in Alumni Arena. Right now, they sit in a three-way tie for third, just one game behind Akron and Kent State.
UB travels to DeKalb for a game against the Northern Illinois Huskies, who are also 5-3, on Tuesday.