Discover more from UB In 5
UB MEN SHOOT THEMSELVES INTO A CRINGEWORTHY LOSS V. BIG 4 RIVAL CANISIUS
Plus: the football news never ends; quick UB-Bucknell women's preview
Image from The Buffalo News
Oh, no: the UB men suffered their first major foul-up of the season on Saturday, losing 65-64 to Big 4 rival Canisius (3-9) at Key Bank Arena in Buffalo.
The Griffs earned one of their biggest wins in a season that’s otherwise been marked by struggles, as they knocked off the University at Buffalo, 65-64, in the nightcap of the Big 4 Tripleheader on Saturday at KeyBank Center.
Ahamadou Fofana hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with one second left in regulation off an inbounds pass from Armon Harried, and on the ensuing possession, UB's Jeenathan Williams couldn’t fend off a defender or complete an off-balance shot, which ultimately secured the win for the Griffs.
To add insult to injury, the Griffs, who are led, of course, by wily old Bulls coach Reggie Witherspoon, played without star forward Malek Green, the team leader in points per game (16.5) and rebounds (7.4).
This was also UB’s second last-second Big 4 loss in two weeks after falling to St. Bonaventure, 68-65, in Olean on Dec. 4 courtesy of Jalen Adaway’s jumper at the buzzer.
The game was cursed from the start. Buffalo missed its first six shots and the Bulls (6-4) fell behind, 37-24, by the end of the first half, shooting 11-for-36 (30%) from the floor and two-for-12 (17%) from three before briefly rounding into form in the second half.
Coming out of the break, the Bulls trailed by as many as 14 points, but UB went on a 17-2 run and they finally took the lead on Ronaldo Segu’s jumper, giving Buffalo the lead with 10:25 left. Canisius regained a 58-54 lead with 6:14 left, but the Bulls scored the next eight, five coming from Segu and three more from Tra'von Fagan, which pulled the Bulls ahead 62-58 with 1:38 left.
UB continued to lead by four with 50 seconds left, but the Griffs cut it to two with 13 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Buffalo was called for an offensive foul on the inbounds giving Canisius the ball back. Fofana then hit the three with 1.1 remaining to put Canisius ahead.
Blame the stagnant UB offense, which posted nearly 20 points fewer than its season average of 83.5 point per game entering the contest, and a miserable four-of-22 (18%) performance beyond the arc. The Bulls also missed five of 15 free throws. Get even one of those 23 combined misses to fall and it’s a different game.
“We weren’t aggressive and we were just trying to figure things out,” Williams told The Buffalo News. “We weren’t playing our basketball. They threw their punch and they rolled with it.”
Williams led Buffalo with 13 points and 14 boards, his first double-double this season. Tra’Von Fagan, a grad student who missed 2020-21 with injury, scored 12 points and added nine rebounds.
The Bulls return to the friendlier confines of Alumni Arena on Tuesday to face UC-Irvine, who lost, 76-54, to Duquesne in a neutral court game at LeBron James’ alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, in Akron.
Why the Ohio visit? ESPN.com explains:
This is the third time the Dukes played a neutral-site game in Akron under fifth-year head coach Keith Dambrot, who led St.Vincent-St. Mary -- and a young freshman/sophomore LeBron James -- to back-to-back state titles in 1999-00 and 2000-01. Dambrot, an Akron native, led the University of Akron -- his alma mater -- to 305 wins and three NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 seasons prior to moving on to Duquesne.
Lest we think the Anteaters (5-4) are pushovers, let us remember that this squad is 53rd in NCAA NET and lost to the 10th-ranked USC by five points last week.
Buffalo is 93rd.
Head coach Russell Turner’s squad, which has now dropped three in a row, is averaging over 20 wins a season during his 11-year tenure, including five Big West titles in the past eight years.
Game time is 7 p.m. The contest will be televised on ESPN3.
Gridiron Notes: Marks to Hulu Bowl, Recruiting Rankings, MAC teams fall in first three bowl games
Image from @Hula_Bowl
The football-industrial complex never stops churning out content. A few UB football-related notes:
Kevin Marks, Jr. is going to the Hulu Bowl. Which, interestingly, will be played in Florida this year. The Bulls’ fifth all-time leading rusher in yards and carries announced that he will appear in the game via retweet, as is the style of the times. Former Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith and Ravens coach Brian Billick will lead the two sides in the game, respectively. The Hulu Bowl is a seen as a showcase for potential late-round NFL draft picks and undrafted free agents with a shot at a roster in The League, the CFL, or Arena Football League (or, apparently, the USFL?). Marks recently announced he’s going pro.
Bulls recruiting class ranked 102nd overall by 247 Sports. The authoritative recruiting website also gave Buffalo the eighth overall rank in the Mid-American Conference. The class is led by three three-star prospects who signed National Letters of Intent (RB Jackson Paradis, LB Pershaun Fann, and WR Nik McMillan), two three-star Hard Commits (QB Mekhi Lynn and WR Cortez Braham), and two three-star transfers (former Boston College safety Jahmin Muse and former Rutgers QB Cole Snyder).
More Bulls in the transfer portal: With new faces coming in, there inevitably will be more faces heading out. The latest Bulls to enter the transfer portal include:
Three-star LB Jaillen Howze, which comes as no surprise, as his twin brother, Quillen, exited Buffalo for the portal in late November;
CB Wankeith Akin, a senior who appeared in 30 games over the past four seasons, mainly on special teams;
Three-star OL Nolan Gorczyca, who played in four games last season as a freshman and leaves to join the Buffalo West squad under former UB coach Lance Leipold at Kansas. Gorczyca is the seventh Bull, and third offensive lineman, to join the Jayhawks. Nine UB players have entered the transfer portal since Oct. 26.
MAC squads getting hammered in bowl games. Yeah, it’s been ugly so far for Buffalo’s MAC compadres in the postseason. Toledo, a 10-point favorite, lost 31-24 to Middle Tennessee State in the Bahamas Bowl, a game in which the Rockets handed their opponents a free 122 yards on 12 penalties—including a targeting call resulting in the ejection of DE Jamal Hines, who had six tackles before getting tossed in the third quarter. Northern Illinois, a double-digit underdog to Coastal Carolina, came up short in a 47-41 loss, thanks in no small part to an absolutely baffling decision by game officials to let the clock run out with the Huskies on Coastal’s four-yard line when what appeared to be a catch for a first down and a tackle out of bounds was somehow deemed a live ball, with no clock stoppage for the first down, while an official stood over the spotted ball and would not allow NIU to get a final snap. Strange! MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher called the officiating “egregious,” “unfortunate,” and unacceptable.” He’s not wrong. Not for nothing, I had a +1628 parlay with MTSU and Northern Illinois each winning on the money line, and that garbage officiating cost me a shot at…well, that’s my problem. And finally, Eastern Michigan got boat-raced by Liberty on Saturday night, falling 56-20 in the Lending Tree Bowl. Someone lend the Eagles a defense, am I right?
And finally…UB women face Bucknell on Monday night
The Bulls will try to bounce back from a tough OT loss to Princeton on Tuesday with a trip to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. No, they have not been convicted on federal charges! They’re playing Bucknell.
The University at Buffalo women's basketball team concludes non-conference play with a contest at Bucknell on Monday evening. Tipoff from Sojka Pavilion is set for 5pm. It is the first meeting between the two teams since 2012. The Bulls own a narrow 7-5 all-time series advantage.
Bucknell enters Monday's contest with an 8-2 overall record after defeating George Mason 77-67 on Saturday. The Bison are led offensively by Taylor O'Brien who is averaging 18.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Carly Krsul (11.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Cecelia Collins (11.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) are also averaging in double figures. Bucknell has held all but two opponents under 60 points this season. The Bison lead the Patriot League and rank 46th in the nation in scoring defense (55.0). The Bison are 78-8 at Sojka Pavilion since the start of the 2015-16 season. Bucknell has lost just one game at home in each of the last three seasons.
Up next, Buffalo will have a week off for the holiday break before opening Mid-American Conference play against Central Michigan on Wednesday, December 29 at Alumni Arena at 1pm. It is the first game of a doubleheader with the UB men's team.
The game will be televised on ESPN+.
Alright, that’s a lot of news. Have a great week!