Bulls Capture 3rd MAC Title in 4 Years

When former Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley left the Bulls, fans feared the program would lose some of their dominance in the Mid-American Conference. Now head coach Nate Oats would disagree with that fear.

For the third time in four years, the Buffalo Bulls have punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament by winning the MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

This time it would come at the hands of the Toledo Rockets by a final of 76-66. Unfortunately for the Rockets, they were without MAC player of the year Tre’Shaun Fletcher.

The story of the game was the high pick and roll between MAC All-Third Team guard Wes Clark and MAC Sixth Man of the Year Nick Perkins. Oates went to this set time and time again, typically against guard Jaelan Sanford and center Luke Knapke. Sanford struggled all night to fight through the large frame of Perkins, and with Knapke sitting back instead of hedging, Clark poured in open jumpers all game to the tune of 26 points.

Perkins, after going just 1-8 in the first half, found a rhythm against a tired Knapke in the second half. “I just slowed down, got to my spot, and finished”, said Perkins. “That really was the big difference”. The big man would finish with 16 huge points.

Toledo would end the game with 3 starters in double digit scoring, led by Jaelan Sanford with 19. However, they were just never able to get over the hump in the second half. “The difference was on us… a couple bad turnovers back to back and missed wide open shots”, said the junior guard. “It was just on us”.

Despite having the NCAA Tournament now staring him in the face, Coach Oats pointed out how excited he was for next season. “Well, if you go to some NCAA tournaments, it is easy to recruit the best players, and you can keep this momentum rolling”, said the second year Buffalo coach. “And the recruiting class we’ve got coming in next year…we’ve got something building”.

Buffalo now awaits Selection Sunday to see where they are seeded and who they will be playing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

Central Michigan Caps Magical Season with MAC Title

 

For the first time since 2013, the Central Michigan Chippewas women’s basketball team will be going to the NCAA Tournament.

Both the Chippewas and the Bulls expected themselves to be in this game after going 17-1 and 16-2 in conference play respectively.

Presley Hudson lit the Chippewas offensive spark early and often, pouring in 11 points going 3-3 from downtown. The Chippewas turned things up defensively as well, as they were able to frustrate Buffalo point guard Stephanie Reid who was 0-2 after the first quarter.

The game would turn on its head in the second quarter, however, as all good MAC Tournament Championship Games seem to. Down 34-23, Buffalo forward Mariah Suchan nearly dove out of bounds to save a loose ball to Reid, who found sharpshooter Cierra Dillard open for 3. This sparked a 17-5 run that put Buffalo up 40-39 via another Dillard 3 ball. Central would calm the storm a bit as Presley Hudson and gang would retake a 43-40 lead heading into halftime.

The second half absolutely belonged to Chippewa senior Tinara Moore. After a scoreless first half (with only 2 touches according to coach Sue Guevara in the post-game presser), Moore established a dominant presence down low. Hudson and Moore dissected the Bulls defense with the high pick and roll as Moore cruised to a 17-point second half performance and finished with 14 rebounds.

Central would extend the lead to as much as 14 before Buffalo made another run to cut it to 4. The Chippewas were able to make enough of their free throws in the closing seconds, however, as Central Michigan punched their ticket with a 96-91 victory.

As mentioned, Tinara Moore’s rebounding down low was too much for Buffalo as double teams failed to slow her down even the slightest. Guards Micaela Kelly and Presley Hudson poured in 26 points each as they frustrated Buffalo’s perimeter defense all day. All starters for Central Michigan finished in double digit scoring.

All-MAC Tournament honors from Central Michigan went to Tinara Moore, Micaela Kelly, and MAC Tournament MVP Reyna Frost who had 10 points and 11 boards in the championship win. Frost scored 14 in the quarterfinal win over Eastern Michigan and 18 in the semifinal win over Miami Ohio. “Thank my teammates and thank my coaches for giving me this award”, tournament MVP Frost said, “preparing me for these games”.

For Buffalo, Cierra Dillard was not her usual self from the field as she really struggled to be efficient. Dillard would finish with 26 points on 6-20 from the field and 5-15 from 3. Stephanie Reid, one of the leaders of this Buffalo team, suffered 2 injuries in the game, the latter of which ending her day.
In inadvertent elbow to her right wrist late in the 3rd forced the trainer to wrap it.

Reid would sit the beginning of the 4th and a sprained ankle at the 5-minute mark would end her day. She would finish with 15 points. A technical foul on Buffalo coach Felisha Legette-Jack with 8 minutes left for disagreeing with a call would prove crucial down the stretch.

Despite 17 turnovers for Central compared to just 5 for Buffalo, the Chippewas overcame this with their persistence on the glass (primarily because of Moore). Central outrebounded Buffalo 44-34 and those extra possessions down the stretch really took the life out of the Buffalo defense.

Buffalo, after a 27-5 regular season record, is still hoping to be a team to receive an at-large bid. “I don’t see how they can’t be”, said Central Michigan head coach Sue Guevara. “They’re one of the top 64 teams in this country”. Coach Guevara also pointed out the MAC Conference was 7th overall in RPI which should work in Buffalo’s favor.

Buffalo forward Summer Hemphill also believes that this Bulls team still has work to do. “The season’s definitely not over”, the freshman said. “We have a longer run to look forward to”.

 

 

 

 

 

Rocket’s Soar to the Mac Championship

Cleveland, OH- Here are the Q, the seven seed, Buffalo Bulls women’s basketball team faced the six seed, Toledo Rockets. The Rockets beat the Bulls with a score of 72-65. Toledo’s leading scorer was Mariella Santucci with 21 points, and she played excellent defense as well. Mikaela Boyd made a huge impact in the game with ten points, 11 rebounds, and five assists.

 

The game started off very slow with only a collective three points for the first five minutes. Joanna Smith of the Buffalo Bulls, kick started the momentum with the first five points for the Bulls. The team fed off of her momentum, and gained a very noticeable energy throughout the arena. Toledo did not become threatened by this presence though, and fought vicariously. Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriot from the Toledo Rockets provided the much needed spark early to retaliate against Joanna Smith.

 

The Rockets shifted momentum early in the second quarter, and started to build a comfortable lead. Mariela Santucci from Toledo started to make an impact that almost swung momentum entirely, but Buffalo stayed put. Stephanie Reid from Buffalo, who was All-Mac Defensive team played extraordinary defense, and had two clutch layups to bring the game within reach. Joanna Smith struggled early while only shooting three for eleven, and having ten points in the first half.

 

The Rockets lead the game with a score of 34-27 at the half, and a huge part of this had to do with Mariella Santucci’s 15 first half points. Toledo did not stop in the second half, as they scored the first three buckets that they attempted. Bravo-Harriot hit a miracle and-one layup, and it felt like everything was dropping for the Rockets in the beginning of the second half. Throughout the whole third quarter, Joanna was continuously shooting poorly and Toledo kept a lead of nearly ten points.

 

The Rockets led the Bulls with a score of 51-39 at the end of the third quarter, and Santucci continued to play excellent defense on Joanna Smith. The Rockets kept the steady ten-point lead throughout most of the fourth quarter, until Courtney Wilkins hit a deep three to bring the Bulls within five. The Bulls maintained just a six-point deficit until the end of the game, but could never fully make a comeback. With this win, the Toledo Rockets will face the Northern Illnois Huskies tomorrow at the Championship.

 

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Kent Flashes Past Defending Champion Buffalo, Advance to Semi-Finals

Cleveland, OH- The last quarterfinal game of the day featured the third seeded Buffalo Bulls against the sixth seeded Kent State Golden Flashes. The team had split the season series; however Kent had won the previous matchup with dominating performances from Jimmy Hall and Jaylin Walker. Today would play out similarly.

The first half started much quicker than the previous quarterfinal game with the two offenses clicking, both shooting over 40%.

The ballgame was tied at 23-23 before a quick 6-0 run from the Flashes put Kent ahead the rest of the first half.

With star senior and All-MAC 1st Team selection Jimmy Hall Jr. put on the bench early with 2 fouls, Jaylin Walker and Deon Edwin (All-MAC Defensive Team) led the Flashes scoring pace with 11 points each. For Buffalo, the Bulls received some much-needed help from their top playmakers. Nick Perkins (MAC 6th Man of the Year) and Blake Hamilton (All-MAC 2nd Team) led the attack with 9 points each, as well as All-MAC Honorable Mention C.J. Massinburg who added 6 points and 3 rebounds in the first half.

The second half saw a bit more of a sluggish start, however Hall was finally able to get things going as he recorded a block, 2 rebounds, and a layup all within the first 4 minutes to add some swagger to his step. He would continue that dominance throughout the night.

Blake Hamilton was electric all night long; however he would pick up his 5th foul on a careless loose ball foul after he missed the previous layup. Hamilton finished with 17 points on 7-12 shooting for the night.

One of the bigger stories of the game was Buffalo senior Willie Conner, who was the MVP of last year’s tournament and averaged 13 points per game during the regular season. However, he would struggle big time tonight. Conner hit his first shot from the field with just over 7 minutes to play in the second half and that would be it. He did knock down 5 out of his 6 free throw to finish with 7 points on the night.

The real drama began to unfold late in the second half, as at the 2:30 mark, Jaylin Walker fouled Conner and picked up a quick technical for arguing the call. 4 free throws for Buffalo pulled them within 3, 65-62.

Nick Perkins also fouled out of the game with just under 2 minutes to go. Perkins shot poorly from the field but managed to be effective, putting in 11 points on 4-13 shooting.

With 12 seconds to go, Jimmy Hall, on a nice interior drop step, drew a foul and would head to the line. He would sink both from the line to give Kent a 68-65 lead.

Massinburg, despite a tremendous night, could not get his final three point heave at the buzzer to fall, as the Bulls would see their season end to the Flashes. 68-65.

On the night overall, both teams shot well below their normal average, with Kent and Buffalo shooting 35% (42% and 44% normally, respectively). Jimmy Hall finished with 24 points on 6-13 shooting, adding in 8 rebounds as well. Deon Edwin also had a big night for KSU, putting in 14 points on 5-12 shooting and grabbing 11 boards to give him a double-double. Jaylin Walker also added in 12 points for the Flashes.

The Flashes will be back in action tomorrow night in the semi-finals where they will take on Ohio. Check out the post-game press conference with Kent State below!

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/user-770818477/kent-state-mac-tournament-2017-mens-quarterfinals-post-game-presser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zips lose heartbreaker to Buffalo, 64-61

The University of Akron men’s basketball team fell to the Buffalo Bulls, 64-61, on Saturday night in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game. The Zips are now unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Akron crowd was in the majority at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and they were rowdy from the beginning, even starting chants 27 minutes before tip-off. A tip-off which Zips’ forward Kwan Cheatham Jr. won. Cheatham Jr. missed the game’s first shot, and Buffalo’s Lamonte Bearden came down and finished a transition layup to start the MAC Championship Game scoring. Akron would get on the board two possessions later, with a pair of Aaron Jackson free throws.

The Zips got off to a slow start offensively, missing their first five field goals. In fact, each starter missed one shot before Antino Jackson connected from deep 3:05 into the half to give the Zips their first made shot from the field and tie the game at five.

Buffalo went on to score the next seven points, finished by a Willie Conner 3-pointer. Akron came back to end the run with a very unusual possession. Jake Kretzer missed from deep, and McAdams attempted to tip it in. The attempt failed, but Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson was on the other side for an easy tip-in of his own. Akron’s struggles continued, however, and they trailed Buffalo 14-7 after the second TV Timeout. At this point in the game the Zips were just 1-8 on 3-point attempts and were outrebounded 10-5.

Buffalo’s shots were falling early on. CJ Massinburg came out with a trey to extend the lead, but Cheatham Jr. came right back with one of his own. On the very next possession Massinburg made another contested 3-pointer, then followed it up with a pair of free throws. The Zips fought back hard, with back-to-back-to-back baskets. First, Johnson found Jimond Ivey for a wide open layup, and Johnson followed it up by finding his own way to the hoop. Finally, after a Noah Robotham steal, Antino Jackson buried a transition 3-pointer to cut the Buffalo lead to 24-17.

After a Conner layup, Akron’s leading scorer, Isaiah Johnson, came back with two straight post baskets. Robotham came back with a layup of his own to bring the Buffalo lead down to three. The Akron crowd got right back into the game, back to the deafening levels from the opening tip.

However, the Zips’ outside shooting continued to struggle, allowing Buffalo to push the lead back to six with another Massinburg 3-pointer. Johnson came right back to cut the lead to four, and force Buffalo coach Nate Oats to use a timeout and quiet the Akron faithful. With 3:13 left in the half, the Zips were just 3-13 from deep.

Several possessions later Cheatham Jr. came up with a huge block down low, with was followed up by a Josh Williams 3-pointer to cut the lead to one. It was the closest the game had been since the 3:05 mark of the first half. Massinburg followed with his fifth field goal, but Cheatham Jr. shot right back with a slam dunk that sent the Zips fans into a frenzy. After a pair of Buffalo free throws, Robotham missed a 3-pointer, but quickly stole the ball from Massinburg. Robotham then found Williams for a wide open 3-pointer with just ten seconds left, and the game went into halftime tied at 33.

Coach Keith Dambrot’s team ended the half on an impressive 23-11 run. In the half, Akron made just five out of 17 shots from deep. In contrast, Buffalo made five out of 12 treys. On the other hand, the Zips made eight out of 14 shots inside the 3-point arc, while the Bulls made only six of 18. Buffalo also dominated Akron on the boards, outrebounding them 23-14 in the first half.

CJ Massinburg led all players after one half with 15 points and three 3-pointers. Also for Buffalo, Willie Conner had seven points and Lamonte Bearden finished with four points, and he led the team with six rebounds and three assists. Johnson led the Zips in four major categories with ten points, four rebounds, three assists, and five made field goals. Johnson only missed one shot in the first half. Also, Williams and Antino Jackson tallied six points, Cheatham Jr. had five points with one block, and Robotham had two points, two assists, and a game-high four steals.

Akron struggled to score early once again, as Buffalo went on a 10-2 run to give them a 43-35 lead. That forced Coach Dambrot to put Johnson back in the game with 15:21 left. Things didn’t change much early though, as Johnson missed his first shot, then Blake Hamilton converted a 3-point play. On the next Akron possession, Johnson committed a turnover and then a foul. CJ Massinburg then came right back with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to push the Buffalo lead to 14. Josh Williams ended the 14-0 run with his third 3-pointer of the ball game.

After a big defensive stop, Kretzer came back with a heavily contested 3-pointer to cut the lead to single digits. On the ensuing Buffalo possession the Zips showed their poor rebounding once again by allowing three straight offensive rebounds. They did, however, keep the Bulls from scoring on the trip. Several possession later Bulls’ big man Nick Perkins stepped out and hit a 3-pointer, but McAdams responded with a deep ball of his own, his first of the game.

On the next Bulls possession it looked like Conner had made another 3-pointer. But after review it showed that it was after the shot clock expired. Kretzer came back with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five. After a Buffalo basket the Zips kept the shooting parade going as McAdams made another trey. McAdams came right back on the next trip and buried his third 3-pointer of the half to make the score 54-53, and put the Akron crowd on their feet as Buffalo used a timeout. Seven minutes and forty seconds remained in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game.

The Zips came right back on the offensive, as Cheatham Jr. found Johnson in the post, and he finessed his way to two points. The Zips had their first lead of the ball game. Bearden, Buffalo’s star sophomore guard, scored several possessions later to retake the lead by one. After a Cheatham Jr. turnover Bearden came right back with a transition layup that pushed the lead to three. Akron called a timeout with 3:39 remaining.

Johnson was stopped after the timeout, but senior leader Kretzer took a charge to give Akron the ball, and Antino Jackson hit a 3-pointer to tie it on the ensuing possession. Following a big Johnson block, Jackson made an NBA distance 3-pointer to give Akron their biggest lead of the game. After Buffalo attempted the same but missed, the Bulls got their own rebound once again. Blake Hamilton made the Zips pay with a deep shot to tie the game right back at 61 with 1:36 left.

After a Buffalo timeout, the Zips lost the ball in a jump ball, with possession going to Buffalo with 1:12 left. That’s when Antino Jackson stepped up big by drawing a charging foul. However, Johnson couldn’t convert, and Buffalo took over. The Bulls advanced the ball to half court and called a timeout with 29.1 seconds on the game clock and 17 seconds to shoot.

The Bulls went to Bearden, and he was fouled by Jackson, but luckily they had fouls to give. It did, however, erase the shot clock. Then with 1.8 seconds left, junior Blake Hamilton stuck the dagger into the Zips season with a 3-pointer on an assist from Perkins. After video review, the officials put .2 seconds on the clock, giving Akron two full seconds to shoot.

McAdams threw the ball inbounds, but his three-quarter court pass was intercepted by Hamilton, and the Buffalo celebration was underway.

CJ Massinburg led all players with 18 points. Massinburg made four of six 3-pointers, and he also grabbed seven rebounds and forced two steals. Blake Hamilton contributed a double-double for Buffalo with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and he made three 3-pointers. Finally, Lamonte Bearden scored 11 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out six assists.

Akron was led by Antino Jackson, who scored 14 points and made four 3-pointers on seven attempts. Big man Isaiah Johnson figured in for 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Johnson made just one of five shots in the second half. Freshman Josh Williams made three 3-pointers for a total of nine points. Finally, Kwan Cheatham Jr. scored five points and added five rebounds while Noah Robotham added two points, three rebounds, four assists, and five steals.

It was a sad ending for two seniors that have played so well for the Zips for the past four seasons, but they both played very well. Reggie McAdams went 3-5 from deep for a total of nine points and four rebounds, while Jake Kretzer shot 2-6 from beyond the arc for six points. We expect some form of postseason play for the Zips, but these two certainly earned another run at the Final Four.

In the end the Zips shot 13-33 from deep, but the game was decided by rebounding. Akron was outrebounded 43-31, and they allowed Buffalo to grab 13 offensive rebounds.