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BIG WEEK FOR THE BULLS CULMINATES IN HOME DOUBLEHEADER TODAY
Plus: Will Dyaisha Fair and Georgia Woolley ever rest again?
Image from bgsufalcons.com
Folks, it’s been a while since our last post—what can we say, world events have been a distraction. Regardless, we’re back, baby, and so is Buffalo’s basketball program— the men (15-8 overall, 9-4 in Mid-American Conference play) are riding a five-game winning streak, the women (17-8, 11-4) have won six of seven, and we’re getting ever-closer to the madness that is March.
Let’s get caught up.
UB MEN BREAK BOWLING GREEN, COMPLETE EASTERN MICHIGAN SWEEP
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Not sure exactly what happened as few specifics have emerged, but on Wednesday—the day after the visiting Bulls cleaned Bowling Green’s clock, 112-85, at the Stroh Center—the Falcons (12-14, 5-10) dismissed Myron Gordon and Joe Reece from the team.
Bowling Green men's basketball head coach Michael Huger has announced that senior guard Myron Gordon and junior forward Joe Reece have been dismissed from the team for failure to meet program standards.
"I want to wish Myron and Joe the very best in their future endeavors," said Huger. "They have made contributions to our program. At the same time, there are standards of behavior within the framework of our team that we expect to be met by all of our student-athletes. Failure to do so on a consistent basis has resulted in the loss of the privilege of being members of this team."
That’s cold, especially considering Gordon (who has enigmatically posted his thoughts on Twitter) scored 15 points and Reece had six points and four boards against UB on Tuesday. You can lose by 27 with or without them, I suppose.
Back to Buffalo: this game was an old-fashioned record-setting whooping.
Over the first three minutes, senior Jeenathan Williams (pictured above, left) scored eight of Buffalo's first 10 points, forcing Bowling Green into the early timeout. The Falcons would keep it within eight with 9:08 left, but the Bulls responded with an 11-0 run, opening a 40-21 lead. The 19-point advantage would be Buffalo's largest for much of the game until another run at the end. Senior Josh Mballa (pictured above, center) had five points during the run, while Ronaldo Segu (pictured top) added another four. The Bulls led by double figures for the rest of the half, taking a 51-38 lead into the break…
The 112 points on the road surpass the old mark of 106, which was set twice, most recently at Niagara during the 2017-18 season. It also happed during the 1973-74 season against Rochester. Overall, the 112 points fifth in school history and the most since UB scored 114 against Ohio in the 2018-19 season.
12 different Bulls found the scoring column on Tuesday evening, led by 20 points and 11 boards from Mballa, who was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Williams added 19 points and four assists, and Segu finished with 19 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
“They beat us in every category,” Huger said after the game. “They were tougher than us in every category. That's the game. We knew what they were going to do, we knew they were driving the ball. We just have to be able to stop that. We knew they were going to rebound the ball. We had to be tougher to stop that and we weren't.”
Devastating! UB just stomped on the whole dang program. It’ll be interesting to see how the Falcons bounce back today at home against Ball State.
No Rest For The Aerie: Bulls Ice Eagles at Gervin Center
Image from emueagles.com
The Bulls wrapped up the two-game road trip through the frozen Midwest with an 83-69 win on Thursday at Eastern Michigan’s George Gervin GameAbove Center. The night was particularly meaningful for Segu, who stamped his name in UB’s record books:
The win was highlighted by a career milestone for senior Ronaldo Segu, who became the 25th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for his career. The milestone basket came on a driving layup with 7:20 left in the first half.
Frankly, this one—with its odd 12 p.m. start time—wasn’t even as close as it looked. For the second consecutive game (the entire road trip!), Buffalo never trailed. The lead never got closer than six points in the second half.
The Bulls placed four players in double figures, led by a second straight double-double from Josh Mballa, who finished with game highs of 19 points and 13 rebounds. Williams finished with 18 points and Segu had 16 points, six assists and three steals, while not turning it over.
Jack scored 11 points, all in the first half, while David Skogman finished with six points and 10 rebounds.
Curtis Jones had five points and four boards off the bench, while Fagan also added five points. (Senior guard Keishawn) Brewton chipped in three points.
UB shot 55% from behind the arc in the game, its second highest shooting total from three overall. Six different players connected from long distance.
The Bulls again held a big advantage on the glass, outrebounding Eastern Michigan, 46-35. Defensively, EMU shot just 25% from behind the arc as Buffalo continued its trend of leading the MAC in 3-pt field goal defense.
It looks like Bulls Head Coach Jim Whitesell has figured out the Mballa-Skogman combo, no? UB is up to 105th in the NCAA NET rankings, and trailing only Ohio (95th) and Toledo (81st) amongst MAC foes.
Buffalo: Still a Contender
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Speaking of the MAC: the regular season title is suddenly within shooting distance again. The league’s top four teams are compressing, with Ohio (13-3 in MAC play) clinging to the lead despite two losses to Toledo (12-3) and a shocking 75-52 road loss to Kent State last night.
The Rockets, meanwhile, red-hot for much of the season, have suddenly lost two of their last four, including a their own shocking loss to Kent State on Tuesday, and an equally shocking 10-point defeat at Ball State last week.
Kent State, as you may have sussed from the previous two paragraphs, is on fire. The third-place Golden Flashes (17-9, 12-4) are riding a blistering eight-game win streak that includes three straight victories over fifth-place Akron (16-9, 9-6), Toledo, and Ohio.
The win at Akron’s James A. Rhodes Arena (The “JAR”)—known for their vociferous fans—got a little personal, as you may have heard:
UB is in fourth with four losses. Buffalo plays hapless Western Michigan at home today at 4 p.m. (ESPN3)—the Bulls, 7-2 at Alumni Arena this season, are 19.5-point favorites—and then face Miami (Ohio), 251st in NCAA NET, on the road.
That tilt will be followed by a home-and-home series with Northern Illinois (290th) before ending the season with…a home game against Toledo, and a road contest at Kent State.
This ain’t over.
UB WOMEN BOUNCE BACK WITH ROAD VICTORY AT BALL STATE
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After losing its first game in over two weeks last Saturday—a 69-64 OT loss at Northern Illinois—UB got back to its winning ways with a 67-62 decision over Ball State at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana.
The usual suspects were back at it for Buffalo:
Junior guard Dyaisha Fair turned in another stellar performance as she eclipsed the 30-point mark for the second time in three games, with a game-high 31 points to go with nine rebounds and two steals. Freshman Georgia Woolley also scored in double figures with 10 points and Summer Hemphill pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds…
The Bulls continued to attack to start the fourth quarter as they used a 6-2 run, capped by a beautiful no look dish from Hemphill to Adebola Adeyeye, to give Buffalo a 10-point lead at the 6:23 mark. Fair knocked down a step-back triple to put the Bulls up 60-47 but the Cardinals answered with an 10-2 lead to cut the lead to five at the 2:33 mark and would later hit a three to trim the UB lead to 62-60 with under a minute remaining but Fair curled off the screen and answered with a big triple of her own to put UB up five with 28 seconds to go. Ball State scored out of a timeout to make it a one possession game, but Fair converted a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory.
Buffalo dominated the paint, scoring 40 points inside, while also scoring 11 points off Ball State turnovers.
Victory, But at What Cost?
Image from ballstatesports.com
Allow me to sing a familiar tune.
Despite the win, and despite building a double-digit lead in both the second and third quarters, Fair and Woolley combined to play 79 of 80 possible minutes. Hemphill played 33.
While the Big Three combined for 47 points—70 percent of the team’s total offense, which manes sense at they took 71 percent of the team’s shots—they were just 16-of-45 from the floor, or a fraction under 36 percent.
How are these players not getting rest? There are guard minutes that can be used to spell Fair and Woolley.
Starting point guard Dominique Camp—who, before this road trip, averaged 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in her previous four games—only played 14 minutes.
Senior guard Jazmine Young, back for only her third game after missing nearly two months of the season, played 27 minutes.
This is not a knock on Young, a former starter averaging nearly seven points a game this season. It’s legitimate confusion regarding Head Coach Felisha Legette-Jack’s insistence on grinding Fair and Woolley into dust.
Legette-Jack is a great coach—that’s indisputable, and the fact that she may well jump to Syracuse and the ACC after this season is a testament to her credentials—but the lack of rest for her two top scorers and most aggressive defenders is befuddling.
The numbers show the decline in Fair and Woolley’s shooting over the past two months as they’ve essentially played without rest. They’re scoring, yes, but UB is also fading late in games as their stars run out of fuel.
Now, Fair did drill an absolutely clutch three as the lead narrowed to 62-60, Buffalo, with 28 seconds left in this game. Fair also hit both of her five attempts in the fourth quarter. Feel free to throw that in the face of my argument.
But Woolley was 0-for-four from distance, and missed three of her three-point attempts in the fourth quarter as the Cardinals (14-9, 7-6) got back into a game that probably shouldn’t have been this close.
A win’s a win. This old man is probably just yelling at clouds. Here’s hoping Fair and Woolley spent the past three days off their feet.
RedHawks: Welcome to the Terrordome
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UB will enter the game hanging steady in second place in the MAC behind Toledo (14-1 in league play) with five conference contests left on the slate. Buffalo’s currently 77th in NCAA NET rankings and 24th in the College Insider Women’s Mid-Major Top 25.
Enjoy the games! Go Bulls.