Bulls Rally to Defeat Ohio, 72-69
BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball
team erased a 10-point deficit in the game's final seven minutes to
defeat Ohio, 72-69, at Alumni Arena on Saturday night. It was
fitting that Saturday was senior night as the six Bulls' seniors,
who were honored prior to the game, played huge roles in the
Ohio (16-13, 6-9 MAC) led by six at the half and built its lead to 63-53 with 7:48 remaining. Following a missed shot by Buffalo (17-10, 9-6 MAC), Ohio looked to build its lead to a dozen. However, Kenneth Van Kempen's layup attempt was blocked from behind by Rodney Pierce and Max Boudreau drained a jumper at the other end to cut the lead to eight. The play seemed to spark the Bulls' rally. Calvin Betts came up with a steal on Ohio's next possession and Pierce capitalized with a layup to cut the lead to 63-57 with 6:35 left.
Following another Ohio turnover, John Boyer found a cutting Jawaan Alston for a layup to cut the lead to four. Another Ohio miss gave the ball back to the Bulls and Pierce found Boudreau on a beautiful give-and-go for a layup to pull the Bulls to within two with 4:19 left.
A layup by Ohio's D.J. Cooper extended the Bobcats' lead to four with 4:40 remaining. Boyer answered with his fourth three-pointer of the game to cut the lead to one with 2:59 left. A tip-in by Van Kempen put Ohio ahead, 67-64, with 2:37 left.
A three-pointer by Pierce knotted the game at 67 with 2:23 remaining. Neither team would score until Ohio's Armon Bassett hit a jumper with 40 seconds left to put Ohio ahead, 69-67. But Pierce struck again as the senior MAC Player of the Year candidate drained a three-pointer with 28 seconds left to give the Bulls their first lead since early in the contest. Pierce wasn't done as he came up with a game-clinching steal on Ohio's next possession. Boyer drained a pair of free throws to seal the win for the Bulls.
Pierce finished with 26 points, four assists and a career-high five steals. Boyer added 16 points, seven assists and a career-best four steals. Betts also had four of the Bulls' season-high 15 steals. Mitchell Watt had three of the Bulls' six blocked shots. Defense was the key for the Bulls in the second half as they held the Bobcats to 25 points after scoring 44 in the first half.
Ohio had five players score in double-figures, led by Van Kempen who had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Cooper finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists for the Bobcats.
"I think our guys did a great job at halftime of taking on the challenge," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "Holding them to 25 points in the second half was huge. We were a little jumpy offensively, but we stayed in there defensively, long enough to give ourselves a chance to be there in the end."
Buffalo will play its final game of the regular season on Thursday night at Miami (OH).