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UB FOOTBALL: THEY GET THE JOB DONE
Bulls will go bowling after clutch win over Akron + TONS of updates from men's hoops, women's hoops, and more.
After a couple weeks of bad news, things are looking up at the University at Buffalo these days. Let’s dig in.
Image from ubbulls.com
Bulls Win! Bulls Win! UB Football Battles Back to Earn Bowl Eligibility With Win Over Akron
The capital-J Journalists would never admit this, but it’s much more fun covering a win than a loss. An ugly win is like bad pizza—it’s still pretty good. While the Bulls (7-5, 5-3) didn’t earn many style points in Friday’s 23-22 win over Mid-American Conference East rival Akron, 23-22, in a game that was rescheduled due to a classic Western New York snowstorm on Nov. 22-23.
Well, check that: wide receiver Quian Williams earned all the style points on his incredible catch-and-strech on the 4th-and-10, season-saving, game-winning touchdown.
What a way to get bowl eligible. The final plays were like the season in a nutshell: a clutch touchdown pass from Cole Snyder to Williams, a kickoff that bounced out of bounds to give the Zips (2-10, 1-7) the ball on the Buffalo 40, and a Marcus Fuqua interception to seal the deal.
The good, the bad, the ugly, and, ultimately, the victory, all in five minutes of real time.
The gamer from UBBulls.com:
Cole Snyder connected with Quian Williams on a fourth-down, 16-yard touchdown pass with just 1:15 left in the fourth quarter to help rally Buffalo to a 23-22 victory over Akron at UB Stadium on Friday afternoon. The win was UB's sixth of the season, assuring the Bulls will play in a bowl game.
Playing without several key players due to injury, including running backs Ron Cook, Jr. and Al-Jay Henderson, the Bulls turned to the passing game to mount the comeback.
Snyder threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Justin Marshall had six catches for 83 yards and a pair of scores, including a 38-yard touchdown grab with just 30 seconds left in the half and a six-yard TD grab late in the third quarter that gave the Bulls a brief lead.
Buffalo was trailing 22-17 with 3:07 left in the game. It looked bleak for the Bulls until Jaylon Bass jumped on a loose ball to give UB possession at its own 40-yard line. The Bulls marched down the field on completions to Williams, Marlyn Johnson, Trevor Borland and Marshall. On 4th-and-10 at the Akron 16, Williams made the play of the game, catching a pass from Snyder near the goal line and before getting knocked out of bounds, reached the ball back behind this head and over the goal line for the game-winning score.
On the ensuring Akron possession, Marcus Fuqua sealed the win with his second interception of the game. The All-MAC first-teamer has seven interceptions on the season – the most by a UB player in its FBS era.
Buffalo fell behind to the Zips, 16-0, but the defense kept the Bulls in the game until the offense could get things going. Linebacker Shaun Dolac had another big game, finishing with a game-high 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks. James Patterson, playing in his final game at UB Stadium, had 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. He became just the fifth player in program history to surpass 400 career tackles.
The Bulls finished the regular season 6-6, becoming bowl eligible for the seventh time in program history. They will find out their bowl game and opponent on Sunday.
“I’m so proud of this team, finishing,” head coach Maurice Linguist told Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News. “I’m so proud of this team doing what was necessary. This team responded. We could have come in here and made excuses. We could have come in here and said this or said that, but this team responded in the moment. This team made plays. I’m just proud of the resiliency this group showed.”
So What’s Next?
Image from ubbulls.com
While bowl seedings will be announced Sunday, there’s a lot of speculation flying around. Some of the predictions:
Brett McMurphy of The Action Network has Buffalo facing Georgia Southern—the Sun Belt home of former UB QB Kyle Vantrease—in the Camellia Bowl on Dec. 27 in Montgomery, Alabama.
College Football News had Buffalo going to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 20 in Boise to face Utah State, but is now backing off this one a bit.
There will be plenty of time to dissect this team and this season. Let’s just say this: the bottom line is UB improved by two wins over last season, finishes with a winning record in the division and a shot at going over .500 in the postseason, beat MAC West champ Toledo, and is heading to a bowl game. Get mad about the way the previous three games went (or the first three games), but Linguist took a program whose depth was drained when Lance Leipold left for Kansas in April 2021 and has rebuilt the plane in the air.
There’s still a long way to go to get this program where it could someday be (I like to look at Cincinnati or, maybe more realistically, Memphis as models), but after all of the drama of November, it does feel—once again—like the ship has righted itself.
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UB Football Boasts Three MAC 1st-Teamers; McNulty STPOY; Seven Overall Honored
Image from ubbulls.com
Buffalo’s stars earned a bit of late-season hardware earlier this week. Kicker Alex McNulty was named the conference’s special team player of the year; linebacker Shaun Dolac and safety Marcus Fuqua were added to the 1st-Team All-MAC roster; and linebacker James Patterson, offensive linemen Des Bessent and Gabe Wallace, and receiver Quian Williams earned 2nd-Team (Patterson) and 3rd-Team (Bessent, Wallace, Williams) honors as well.
McNulty is the first UB player ever named MAC Special Teams Player of the Year. He is having the finest season of any kicker in school history. The Caledonia, NY native has made a single-season school-record 20 field goals on the year. An All-MAC Third Team selection in 2020, McNulty currently ranks second in program history in career field goals (45) and first in extra points (159) and career points scored by a kicker (294). This season he was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.
Dolac is arguably the best linebacker in the Mid-American Conference. He leads the MAC in tackles with 122. His 86 solo tackles are not only a school record but leads all FBS football by a significant margin. He's added a team-best 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Fuqua is having a breakout season for the Bulls. The junior safety has five interceptions on the year which leads the MAC and ranks seventh nationally, one shy of the leaders. He has added 53 tackles, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Following his three-interception performance against Toledo, he was named the Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week.
“Really proud of (Alex) and the job he’s done, and the progress he’s made over the last couple seasons in our program,” Coach Linguist said in his Wednesday press conference. “Marcus Fuqua, a guy we’ve mentioned so much about, being named 1st-team All-MAC as a defensive back. (That’s the kind of) year he’s having the way, and the way he’s going to finish.
“Shaun Dolac, who we’ve known about for over a year now and the kind of development he’s (had). Both of those guys are similar stories—working their way to become regular starters, buying into everything we’ve been teaching them and taking on their responsibilities, and being rewarded with 1st-team All-MAC selections.
“James Patterson, I think this is four years being named to the All-MAC team, 2nd-team All-MAC, just a tremendous leader, a tremendous player. He’ll go down in Buffalo history as one of the all-time greats.
“Quian Williams being named 3rd-team—congratulations to him, continuing to be a big-time regular player and starter for us at the wide receiver position.
“Then there’s Gabe Wallace and Desmond Bessent—a transfer we took in last year, and responded with a 3rd-team All-MAC selection. Gabe Wallace, looking at the development he’s shown all the way through, and I’m looking forward to what he’s going to do, finishing the season and continue to do throughout his entire career.”
Men’s Basketball Wins 1st of Two Rivalry Games, 2nd Tips Off This Afternoon
Image from ubbulls.com
The Buffalo men’s basketball team, after losing four games in a row, has now won two straight—including last Sunday’s 86-66 dismissal of Big 4 foe Canisius (2-4). The Bulls (3-4) broke this one open with a huge run over the final eight minutes of the first half:
In dominant fashion, the Bulls led for a total of 31:07 and had their largest lead of the season of 23 points. Buffalo shot at a rate of 48.5%, 32-of-66, in the game. The Bulls' stifling defense held Canisius to 22.2% from three-point range as they went 8-for-36.
The Bulls were disciplined as they only had 14 fouls in the contest, three of which occurred in the first half. Canisius only got to the free throw line 15 times, the fewest allowed attempts by the Bulls this season.
Sophomore guard Curtis Jones continued his from three-and-D bench player to impact starter, leading all scorers with 22 points (four-of-10 from three) while grabbing six rebounds. Backcourt mate Zid Powell (14 points, five rebounds) and swingmen Armoni Foster (12 points, five assists) and Isaiah Adams (eight points, six rebounds, five assists) also helped squash the former UB head coach Reggie Witherspoon and his Golden Griffins’ hopes for a road upset.
Playing without big men Isaac Jack or Sy Chatman (who has yet to log any minutes this season), reserve forward LaQuill Hardnett logged nine points and six boards, while center Jonnivius Smith, a Seton Hall transfer, posted 10 points—his most as a Bull—and collected seven rebounds.
These guys are coming together.
Today at 2:30 p.m. at Alumni Arena (ESPN+): St. Bonaventure (5-2)
Image from gobonnies.com
Up next is St. Bonaventure, a team that’s also in transition but has already proven to be no joke. The Bonnies, ranked #157 in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, are coming off a 71-64 home win over #115th-ranked Middle Tennessee State—one of the better teams in Conference USA— on Wednesday:
In the last contest for the St. Bonaventure men's basketball team, the Bonnies led wire-to-wire in a dominating effort over Notre Dame. The script was flipped five nights later at the Reilly Center as the Bonnies needed to rally from 11 down and led for just over nine minutes of game time.
In the end, though, the result was another Bona's victory, 71-64 over visiting Middle Tennessee. The latest triumph marks the fourth win in a row for a young squad that remained perfect at home and improved to 5-2 overall on the year.
Kyrell Luc carried the team down the stretch with multiple big shots while helping to ice the game away in the final 90 seconds at the line. He finished with 22 points to lead all scorers.
Daryl Banks III chipped in 15 points while Chad Venning tallied 13.
Before that victory, Mark Schmidt’s crew earned its first signature win by knocking off a tough Notre Dame squad to win the Gotham Classic title:
St. Bonaventure never trailed in an impressive, dominating performance, downing the Irish by a 63-51 final tally.
In so doing, the Bonnies handed Notre Dame its first loss of the season (5-1) while taking an emphatic step forward to a 4-2 mark of their own.
Notre Dame brought six graduate students and over 5,000 combined career points to its lineup Friday while the Bonnies, of course, are an entirely new group with zero returning points from last year's squad.
Those stats mattered little to the Bonnies, as they scored 11 of the game's first 13 points and never relinquished control.
Chad Venning was a force inside, producing his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Kyrell Luc finished with 16 points and six assists, including two key three-pointers down the stretch to help put the game away.
Venning was named Gotham Classic MVP for his work.
Image from ubbulls.com
Beating Canisius was nice—especially after last season’s shocking Golden Griffins upset—but taking out the Bonnies would send up a flare to the rest of the mid-major world (and avenge another cringeworthy loss from last December).
"I think every game is important," Buffalo head coach Jim Whitesell told The Buffalo News. "But your rivalry games, much respect for Canisius, much respect for the Bonnies. Those games get you better, make make it tougher and the intensity level has to rise up. Those are the things that make it make it better. I'm sure we'll have a great crowd on Saturday for that game, so we've got to get back into work and keep getting better."
“They feel like conference games, to me,” forward LaQuill Hardnett (pictured above) added. “We play them every year. It’s like we know each other on a conference level. It’s like the conference intensity early in the year, so it helps us get ready for our conference play. We take these very seriously. They bring a lot of intensity to the game because we are right here, so when we see who the best in the area is, there’s a lot of pride taken into these games.”
Image from gobonnies.com
Some key numbers for on St. Bonaventure, courtesy of gobonnies.com:
1 – Brett Rumpel made his collegiate debut Wednesday vs. MTSU. The Binghamton guard redshirted last season and missed the first six games of this year due to a foot injury suffered in preseason practices.
5 – Kyrell Luc handed out five or more assists in the first six games of the year before finishing with three helpers in Wednesday's win over MTSU.
20 – Kyrell Luc has three career 20-point games in 38 career contests. Two have come this season (23 points vs. Saint Francis (PA), 22 points vs. MTSU).
23 – Moses Flowers is looking for an expanded role after his best game in a Bonnies uniform vs. Notre Dame. He played a season-high 23 minutes and chipped in an effort that went beyond his five points and two assists showing in the box score.
24.6% – The Bonnies are limiting opponents to 24.6% 3-point shooting so far this season. That total ranks eighth nationally among all Division I squads. Five Bonnies opponents have shot 21% or worse this year from deep (Saint Francis, 21%; South Dakota St., 18%; Bowling Green, 16%; Notre Dame, 12%; Middle Tennessee, 11%) and only one (Canisius) has shot better than 32% beyond the arc.
51 – Daryl Banks III recorded his 51st career double-figure scoring effort Nov. 30 vs. MTSU, surpassing 1,000 career points in the victory. He totaled 890 points in his first three seasons at Saint Peter's. The milestone was extra special as he did not reach the 1,000-point scoring plateau in high school.
Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt Launch Rivalry Series
Image from sunbeltsports.org
A little late to report this one, but an interesting development: the MAC and the Sun Belt will launch a rivalry series in men’s and women’s basketball in 2023 and 2024. While not exactly the ACC-Big 10 Challenge (RIP), it’s pretty cool to see the two smaller conferences continue to build a relationship. There’s been some nice matchups in football (Buffalo’s had good games against Old Dominion and Coastal Carolina over the past two seasons) and the Sun Belt has two men’s teams and a women’s program in the Mid-Major Top 25 (the MAC has five squads in the women’s MMT25 and two in the men’s MMT25), so we can expect solid matchups. Plus—let’s be real, here—the Sun Belt is a conference on the rise, and there are worse things for the MAC to do than glom onto its increasing national profile.
The Murchie Family Comes Through Again: New Sports Performance Center Announced
Image from ubbulls.com
Facilities are part of the formula to bring in recruits—in football, yes, but across all sports, as well. No serious athlete, one who’s paying their way through school with a scholarship, wants to fire up their quads on a beat-up Smith machine next to their sweaty Economics professor.
That’s what makes this recent announcement huge news for UB athletics:
University at Buffalo Vice President and Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt announced on Wednesday plans for a new state-of-the-art sports performance center. Thanks to a transformational gift from the Murchie family, the new sports performance center will be one of the finest facilities in the nation and will revolutionize the way UB student-athletes train.
Directly connected to the west end of the Murchie Family Fieldhouse, the 12,000-square-foot, multli-level facility will double the size of the current Morris Sports Performance Center which will be repurposed.
The facility will feature 18 free weight training racks, a 42-foot, 17-degree turf training incline, a 1,000-square foot cardio mezzanine, three offices and a conference room as well as a supplemental nutrition area.
That’s awesome. More from The Buffalo News:
The facility, which Alnutt told The News is a $7.5 million project, is expected to be completed by the spring of 2024. The Murchie family are the lead donors. Tunney Murchie is a 1975 UB graduate, earned his MBA from UB in 1976 and is the president of Lackawanna Products Corporation. UB did not disclose the amount of the gift.
“It’s going to continue to transform our athletics program, and our football program,” Coach Linguist said. “Really looking forward to breaking ground this spring, and getting that ready to go about a year from now. So many thanks to Tunney Murchie and his entire family—the generosity that he continues to show, the support he continues to give our football program, and what that facility’s going to mean to our football program and athletics as a whole.”
It’s another step in the right direction. Next up: getting the donor base to form a legitimate NIL collective, something that the recent Buffalo News article on NIL completely ignored and instead focused on individual athlete NIL deals. No one cares if Mighty Taco is giving Justin Marshall $500 a month to tweet about the Super Mighty, dude! Well, Justin Marshall might. What’s significantly more important is if there are collectives in place to specifically “create brand opportunities” for top recruits. Working on a story about this now.
The Rebuild Continues for UB Women’s Hoops
Image from @rhodywbb
We are not relegating UB women’s basketball to the final slot in this monster newsletter out of spite; it’s because, unlike the good news above, things are kind of rough for first-year head coach Becky Burke’s team right now.
After a brutal offensive performance in a 53-35 home loss to Drexel in which the Bulls (1-4) shot 30 percent from the floor, seven percent (!) from three, and 40 percent (!!) from the free throw line—and this after a loss to Division 2 Mercyhurst—Buffalo took another one on the chin in a 75-61 loss at Rhode Island on Thursday.
The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (1-4, 0-0 MAC) fought hard but couldn't overcome multiple scoring droughts as they fell 71-56 at Rhode Island on Thursday night. Fifth year guard Jazmine Young led the Bulls with 14 points while Re'Shawna Stone also scored in double figures with 13 points to go with three rebounds and three assists, while Zakiyah Winfield added nine points.
Rhode Island opened the game on a 12-0 run to take a commanding early lead before Emerita Mashaire hit Kayla Salmons on the block for UB's first field goal of the game at the 6:10 mark. …
The Bulls scored 22 points in the paint and found their stride defensively over the final three quarters as they forced 17 URI turnovers while cashing those in for 17 points on the other end, but the Rams held a big advantage on the glass, owning a 36-20 edge on the night.
Buffalo returns to Western New York to take on Big 4 foe Niagara on Wednesday, December 7. Tipoff from the Gallagher Center is set for 6pm.
The squad did earn praise from the victors in defeat.
“I’d like to give credit to Buffalo,” Rhode Island head coach Tammi Reiss said after the game. “That’s one of my good friends that coaches that team. She’s going to have to turn that program around. They came in here and outplayed us tonight. I thought they had more energy. I thought they played harder…so credit to Buffalo for coming in here, and really getting after it and competing.”
Image from ubbulls.com
The program is starting from scratch this season. Things will get better under Burke (pictured above), a proven winner dating back to her playing days at Louisville and through her coaching stints at Embry Riddle, Charleston and South Carolina Upstate—infinitely more difficult places to build a program than the Nickel City.
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