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.

 

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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Bobcats Scratch Their Way to Win, Defeat Rockets in Quarterfinals

Cleveland, OH: The third game from Quicken Loans Arena of the 2017 MAC Tournament Men’s Quarterfinal pitted second seeded Ohio University against the Rockets of Toledo, who claimed the seven seed in this year’s tournament.

Toledo won the earlier matchup in the year by a final of 79-76, led by senior forward Steve Taylor’s 25 point performance. The Bobcats came into the matchup with the top defense in the MAC, giving up 70 points a game but holding opponents to 41% shooting from the field.

The first half would be nothing but Toledo. Within the first 5 minutes, the Rockets were running like a well-oiled machine, going 4-5 from the field and 2-2 from deep to start. They would finish the half shooting 52% overall and 54% from downtown. Ohio, on the other hand, looked all out of sorts on the offensive end. Some poor shots mixed in with some atrocious fast break decisions left Ohio facing a 37-29 deficit at the half, shooting just 36% and a measly 15.4% from deep.

One bright spot for Ohio was Freshman big man Jason Carter’s put-back at the buzzer to make it a single digit game, giving the Bobcats some momentum heading into the second half.

Jonathon Williams, a senior, paced the Rockets offense with 11 points. For the Bobcats, it was none other than Jaaron Simmons, as the First Team All-MAC recipient had 12 first half points.

A quick 12-0 run out of the gate got the Ohio crowd back into it in a hurry, as the Bobcats defense locked in and finally looked formidable in their transition offense. At the first media timeout, the Bobcats would hold a 41-37 lead.

Toledo would struggle mightily to start the second half as the Rockets would go 0-for beyond the arc until sophomore guard Jaelen Sanford connected on a corner triple, making it 50-45 Bobcats at the 10-minute mark.

The most exciting part of the game (per usual) was the final minute. Nate Navigato, a sophomore for Toledo, nailed his second triple of the night to tie the game at 64 a piece with 40 seconds left.

Jonathan Williams would knock the ball away and finish a fast break layup following his steal to put the Rockets up two.

Jason Carter, who was electric for Ohio all second half, split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left. Steve Taylor of Toledo would then get fouled and miss the front end of his one-and-one.

It would be Kenny Kaminski of Ohio who would claim hero of the night, as he connected on a 15-footer from the right wing to put Ohio up 67-66. “It was big time for sure”, Kaminski said about the shot. Jonathan Williams would race down the court and put up a floater in traffic that would fall short. Jordan Lauf grabbed the rebound but his put-back attempt was rushed and well off the mark, as the Rockets would run out of the time in this game and in their season.

Jaaron Simmons would be the high-scoring man for Ohio, pouring in a 24 point performance. For Toledo, Jonathan Williams managed to put in 18 and got an unexpected 12-point performance from senior Jordan Lauf, however their efforts would not be enough.

Catch the Bobcats in action tomorrow night at The Q in the semi-finals!

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