Bulls Win Defensive Battle at Army, 56-54
WEST POINT, NY – Byron Mulkey hit a pull-up jump shot in the lane with 12.3 seconds left to break a 54-all tie and lift the University at Buffalo men's basketball team to a 56-54 win at Army on Wednesday night. The Bulls needed to rely on a gutty defensive effort to come out victorious.
Buffalo (4-2) held Army to 23.6 percent shooting (13-of-55) for the game. Mitchell Watt led the defensive effort with five of the team's 10 blocked shots. The junior forward added 12 points and eight rebounds. Javon McCrea had three blocks and a steal.
Buffalo jumped out to an 11-1 lead to start the game and held the Black Knights to only two points over the first 5:23 of the game. Army (4-3) didn't score its first field goal until the 14:16 mark of the first stanza. However, cool shooting and turnovers cost the Bulls a chance to pull away. Buffalo had 18 first-half turnovers allowed the Black Knights to take a 24-17 lead with a minute to go in the first half. However, a Zach Filzen three and a Mulkey layup in the closing seconds allowed the Bulls to cut the Army advantage to 24-22 at the break.
The Bulls heated up at the start of the second half as they got three-pointers from Mulkey, Filzen and Dave Barnett. A McCrea layup put Buffalo ahead, 37-32, with 14:25 remaining.
The Bulls extended their lead to 44-38 on another Filzen trey with 8:41 left. But the Black Knights came roaring back. A Josh Herbeck three-pointer capped a 9-1 scoring run to put Army up 47-45 with 5:34 remaining.
The teams would trade scores until Watt drained a free throw to knot the game up at 51 with 1:19 left. Army's Julian Simmons made one of two free throws to give the Black Knights a 52-51 lead with 1:17 remaining. Filzen came up big on the next UB possession as he drove the baseline, hit a leaner and was fouled. His free throw put the Bulls up 54-52 with 59 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Army's Ella Ellis calmly hit two free throws to tie the game at 54 with 47 ticks left. However, the final lead change would go the Bulls' way as Mulkey's jumper won it for UB. Ellis' contested jump shot at the buzzer was off the mark allowing the Bulls to escape with the two-point victory.
Filzen led Buffalo with 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half. The junior sharpshooter drained three three-pointers. Mulkey finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
"Byron [Mulkey] was completely composed throughout most of the game," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "He played the entire second half. I also thought Zach Filzen was also extremely composed and able to play hard. Both those guys took the challenge. To say we had 18 turnovers in the first half and to cut that down to five, it gave us a chance."
The Bulls will look to build on this win on Saturday night when they travel to Olean, NY to face St. Bonaventure. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 pm.