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CATCH UP EDITION: UB MEN FALL TO BONNIES, UB WOMEN KEEP WINNING + MAC FOOTBALL AWARD SEASON
We've taken a little break, gang, but we're back.
To the audience of our little publication: sorry for ghosting on you.
Travel over the Thanksgiving holiday made writing tough at the end of last week, and the hustle of catching up with the day job after being on the road for eight days sapped the necessary energy to bang this sucker out three times a week. The mind was willing, the body was weak!
The body is now feeling well-rested, and after an epic Championship Saturday wagering run yesterday ($pread wins on Northern Illinois, Baylor, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, and Pitt), it’s time to get back into the grind.
Let’s do this.
BUZZER-BEATING BONAVENTURE TREY SINKS BULLS, 68-65
Image from The Buffalo News
The UB men’s basketball team came tantalizingly within grasp of a signature out-of-conference win for the third time this season yesterday. The other close calls:
A season-opening 12-point loss to #24 Michigan, a game in which the Bulls outscored the Wolverines, 40-37, in the second half.
Next: a 79-78 loss to Stephen F. Austin in the Cancun Challenge, another game in which a big Buffalo second half couldn’t overcome a 10-point halftime deficit.
Mark Schmidt’s crew entered the game #25 in the Coaches Poll and #27—between Illinois and LSU—in the AP Top 25. The Bonnies (7-1 overall), however, are without star guard Kyle Lofton (ankle), and seemed ripe for the plucking after an unanticipated loss to Northern Iowa on Nov. 27 and a come-from-behind win on Wednesday over a Coppin State team with 11 losses.
It was not to be. Another cold start for UB—Buffalo shot 34% from the field, and 23% from three in the first half—put the Bulls in an early hole, and they never completely climbed out.
Bona got off to an inspired start under the circumstances, taking a late first-half lead on a (Linton) Brown trey and bringing a 35-29 lead into the break. It was the more aggressive of two blue-collar teams, scoring inside off the drive (with (senior forward Osun) Osunniyi adding 14 and 7 boards) and outrebounding the Bulls, 42-23. It never backed down, as evidenced by the late nose-to-nose squabble that led to double technicals for Dominick Welch and UB’s Ronaldo Segu.
But the Bulls battled back! The second half was a roller coaster of emotion, according to UBBulls.com:
The Bulls scored the first four points of the second half, but St. Bonaventure scored the next nine to take its first double-digit lead of the game. The Bonnies led by as many as 13, but a three-pointer from Ronaldo Segu began a 13-4 run for the Bulls, who climbed back within four following a layup from Jeenathan Williams.
However, St. Bonaventure again led by double figures with a 63-52 lead with 3:05 left, but the Bulls weren't done. A pair of baskets from Williams quickly cut it to seven and a three from Segu pulled Buffalo to within four at 63-59 with 1:22 left. The Bonnies hit a pair of free throws to go back up six, but a three from Williams cut the deficit in half.
St. Bonaventure then missed the front end of a one and one and Williams found Maceo Jack in the corner for a three with 29 seconds left, tying the game up at 65-65.
Climbing the mountain doesn’t always leave time to enjoy the summit, unfortunately. Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News has what happened next:
After UB’s Jeenathan Williams (23 points) and Maceo Jack hit back-to-back 3-pointers in a span of 32 seconds to erase what was once an 11-point lead for the Bonnies (7-1), (Jalen) Adaway’s 3-point shot beat the buzzer and gave the Bonnies one of their more gratifying wins of the season, particularly against the Bulls (4-3), an opponent for whom almost any Bonnie harbors a special type of hate.
Adaway stayed cool as he took a pass from Jaren Holmes, after Holmes drove the lane and drew two defenders.
“We had Osun (Osunniyi) setting a screen and rolling to the rim, so that was an option,” said Adaway, who scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games. “Also, with Jaren (Holmes) penetrating and possibly getting a shot or a layup. We knew that if my guy was going to help the roll out, the shot was going to be there. You just have to take advantage of that.”
“These games, there’s going to be some ebbs and flows,” said UB Coach Jim Whitesell. “They’re two very good programs and you’re going to have those ups and downs, and you’ve got to hang in there.”
Williams (pictured at top) led all scorers with 23 points and snared a game-high four steals. Segu paced Buffalo with six rebounds and four assists.
Senior forward Josh Mballa was notable in the sense that he had an uncharacteristically quiet game, scoring two points on 1-for-7 shooting and collecting just three boards and no blocks in 26 minutes.
If this was a measuring stick game for 6’7 Mballa against the Bonnies’ well-respected, 6’10 Osunniyi (14 points, seven rebounds, four blocks), there’s still some growing to do.
The UB men (4-3 overall) are now off until Wednesday, when they travel to Bowling Green to face Conference USA foe Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are currently 5-3 and have won four straight. Tipoff is 8 p.m. on ESPN+.
CATCHING UP WITH UB WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: THREE WINS IN A ROW, RHODE ISLAND TODAY
Image from UBBulls.com
As noted in our last newsletter, the Battle 4 Atlantis was, at best, a learning experience for the Bulls (4-2). There’s no shame in losses to eventual tourney champion #1 South Carolina and an Oklahoma team ranked among the top 40 programs in the country.
UB closed out the tournament with a weighty 88-79 win over head coach Felisha Legette-Jack’s alma mater, Syracuse, and continued to roll its opponents with a 62-45 home win over James Madison and a 95-55 thumping of Big Four rival Niagara.
Today, the women welcome visiting Atlantic 10 contender Rhode Island (7-2) to Alumni Arena, where UB is 3-0 this season. It’s the first time the Bulls and Rams have locked horns since 1999.
Buffalo is coming off a dominant win over Niagara on Sunday in which the Bulls led for all but 30 seconds in a 95-55 rout of the Purple Eagles. Four Bulls scored in double figures led by junior guard Dyaisha Fair who had 26 points to go with six rebounds and seven assists. Freshman Georgia Woolley (pictured) had a breakout performance as she scored a career-high 23 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc. …Buffalo won the battle on the glass 52-40, including turning 19 offensive rebounds into 24 second chance points, while dominating the paint with 46 points in the lane.
Rhode Island enters Sunday's contest with an 7-2 overall record after falling 66-54 at Holy Cross on Thursday night. The Rams are led offensively by Emmanuelle Tahane who is averaging close to a double-double with 14.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Dez Elmore (12.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Dolly Cairns (11.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and Marie-Paule Foppossi (11.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) are also averaging in double figures. Tahane earned a spot on the A-10 preseason All-Conference First Team after being named Co-Player of the Year a season ago. Foppossi earned a spot on the second team while Elmore landed on the third team. The Rams were picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.
Today’s 2 p.m. game is viewable on ESPN3.
Buffalo will face Virginia Commonwealth at home on Wednesday.
MAC FOOTBALL NOTES: NIU IS YOUR CHAMPION; ALL-MAC TEAM ANNOUNCED
Image from WGNTV.com
Well, they did it: Northern Illinois officially went from worst to first with a 41-23 win over Kent State on Saturday in the Mid-American Conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field. Congratulations to MAC Coach of the Year Thomas Hammock and his crew of fantastic freshmen; after finishing 0-6 in 2020, NIU is at the top of the heap. The Huskies are going to be a problem for the foreseeable future.
Former Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi ran for three touchdowns and Jay Ducker ran for 146 yards on 29 carries to power Northern Illinois to a 41-23 victory over Kent State in the Mid-American Conference title game on Saturday.
It is the Huskies’ (9-4) sixth MAC title in the last 11 years and first since 2018 when it beat Buffalo. Kent State (7-6) was shooting for its first conference championship since winning it in 1972.
Momentum appeared to be shifting to the Golden Flashes at the start of the second half. Andrew Glass kicked a 41-yard field goal on the opening drive for their first points of the game and the Kent State defense forced Northern Illinois to punt for the first time.
But on the next drive Dustin Crum, the MAC’s most valuable player this season, was intercepted by C.J. Brown who returned it 26 yards for a touchdown as the Huskies went ahead 24-3. The Golden Flashes cut the deficit to 24-10 with 27 seconds left in the third quarter when Crum hit Nykeim Johnson on a 17-yard scoring strike.
The Huskies ended Kent State’s comeback hopes when Lombardi scored on a 3-yard keeper with 10:54 left making it 31-10. He added a 2-yard TD run nearly four minutes later.
Bowl seedings are expected to be announced this afternoon in conjunction with the final College Football Playoff standings.
In other news, the All-MAC team and MAC award winners were announced this week.
Image from kentstatesports.com
From the tastefully named getsomemaction.com:
Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum (pictured) was tabbed the winner of the 40th Vern Smith Leadership Award as the top player in the MAC. Northern Illinois Head Coach Thomas Hammock was selected as the Head Coach of the Year, while Central Michigan running back Lew Nichols III was named Offensive Player of the Year. Western Michigan defensive end Ali Fayad was tabbed as the Defensive Player of the Year, while Central Michigan's Kalil Pimpleton was selected as the Special Teams Player of the Year. Northern Illinois running back Jay Ducker earned Freshman of the Year honors, rounding out the specialty award selections.
On the home front:
“Seven University at Buffalo football players were named to the All-Mid-American Conference football team,” UBBulls.com reports. “Linebacker James Patterson was named to the first team. Left tackle Jake Fuzak and defensive lineman Daymond Williams were named to the second team. Running back Dylan McDuffie, wide receiver Quian Williams, offensive lineman Jack Klenk and kick returner Ron Cook, Jr. were named to the third team. …
”Patterson is a first-team selection for the second straight season. The senior linebacker led the Bulls and ranked second in the MAC in tackles with a career-best 116. He added a team-high 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.”
Visit the official MAC website to see the full list of All-MAC team members.
And finally—the transfer portal.
Image from @BigGucci_Tim
Since Oct. 26, eight Bulls have entered the transfer portal, including:
Mark Davis, CB. A two-star, 6’2 redshirt freshman from Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida, who never saw game action in two years at Buffalo.
Kolbe Burrell, RB. This two-star redshirt freshman was a Pennsylvania high school state champion and a former USA Today All-American honorable mention.
Lonnie Rice, LB. A 6’0, 220-pound Philadelphia product, this two-star freshman was a three-time first-team All-State, All-Catholic, All-Southeastern PA and All-City selection at Bishop McDevitt High School.
Tim Terry, LB. Terry (pictured above) announced he entered the transfer portal on Twitter on Nov. 22. Since 2018, this three-star player from Pittsburgh has been a constant presence on UB’s defense and special teams. He appeared in all 11 of UB’s contests in 2021, recording 23 tackles and returning a fumble for a touchdown against Old Dominion on Sept. 25.
Rowan McGwin, OT. A 6’6, 270-pound two-star product from Rochester, NY’s Irondequoit High School. He was an All-County player and a state champion for the Eagles.
Eric Black, DL. Black announced he was leaving Buffalo on Nov. 29 on Twitter. Like Terry, the 6’4, 247-pound Black’s been an impact player at UB, recording 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks over his Blue and White career. Blacks hails from Rochester and graduated from Rush-Henrietta High School.
Tahliq Battle, WR. A 5’7, 180-pound receiver from Hempstead, NY. He thanked the university, the coaching staff, and his teammates when he made his announcement on Dec. 1.
Quillen Howze, CB. A three-star recruit from Sterling Heights, Michigan, Howze and his twin brother, Jaillen, an OLB, arrived on campus with some fanfare in 2020. The Buffalo News reported that Quillen was “…the No. 26 prospect in Michigan. …He had 22 tackles, including four tackles for loss, one interception and 10 pass breakups on defense; 29 receptions for 377 yards and two touchdowns on offense; and three kickoff returns for 51 yards on special teams.”
Quillen, a robotic engineering student, appeared in one game this season, Oct. 2’s 24-17 loss to Western Michigan. For a team with major secondary issues, losing a three-star CB stings. That sting may turn into a bite if Jaillen decides to bail, as well.