Buffalo Dismantles Dayton, 84-55
DAYTON, OH – Thanks in part to a plus-21 rebounding margin and a stingy zone defense, the Buffalo men's basketball team cruised to its first road win of the season Wednesday evening. The Bulls built off a 16-point halftime lead to give the Dayton Flyers its worst home loss since 1995 and UB's largest road victory in the Division I era in an 84-55 victory. Zach Filzen led all scorers with 24 points while Mitchell Watt and Javon McCrea each tallied a double-double.
The game was close in the early going, with the Bulls committing four turnovers before the first timeout of the game. An eight-all tie was snapped by back-to-back three pointers from Filzen and Tony Watson but Dayton was able to hit a three of its own on the next possession. That would be the last point the Flyers would score for the next eight minutes and 21 seconds, thanks in part to the Buffalo 2-3 zone that allowed no clean looks almost every time down the floor.
"I thought the zone was our best opportunity tonight to limit their dribble penetration and to contest their three-point shooting," said head coach Reggie Witherspoon. "I thought we had enough length to contest their shots and we limited the penetration."
While the Flyers offense went dormant, the Bulls proceeded to go on an 18-0 run thanks to grinding out long possessions and penetration from McCrea. The sophomore forward was actually outscoring the entire Dayton roster 13-12 until 3:19 was left in the first half and Dayton scored its first field goal on a three pointer. For the game, McCrea scored 17 and had 11 rebounds.
In the second half, Mitchell Watt took advantage of extra attention paid to his frontcourt teammate McCrea and scored 12 in the second half alone en route to a 16 point, 11 rebound game. He also came tantalizingly close to the program's first triple-double, coming up just shy with a career-high seven assists.
"Javon and Mitch did a really nice job of establishing themselves around the basket and then sustaining their energy and effort," Witherspoon said. "I thought their motors were very good tonight and they provided problems for Dayton because of their energy."
The two post players aside, the entire Buffalo team exerted its will over the Flyers on the boards for a season-high 51 rebounds, 15 of which came on offense. The Bulls used the efforts of Watt, McCrea and Dave Barnett (eight rebounds) to claim an 18-4 advantage in second-chance points and a 28-16 advantage in points in the paint. Barnett was able to hit an early three pointer and then take advantage of run outs by his defenders to penetrate and post another solid output of eight points, no turnovers and a block to go along with his rebounding total.
"Dave did a great job on both ends tonight with his rebounding, and 15 offensive rebounds as a team was obviously big because it kept them out of transition," Witherspoon said. "I thought being able to rebound out of the zone was big for us because it's always a challenge to rebound in a zone defense."
Another quietly important game was posted by guard Tony Watson, who was able to negate the Flyers' pressure and score 10 points to go with four dimes and three rebounds. Witherspoon was happy to see his backup point guard step up and provide critical leadership in front of 12,215 boisterous fans.
"He (Watson) was exactly what the doctor ordered in terms of going into the game off the bench and knowing exactly what was needed," Witherspoon said. "He knew what it took to be a leader out there and I thought he had a great floor game tonight – he got us into our offense and ran it very well when we needed it."
With his six three pointers on the night, Filzen tied his career high while moving into third place in the program's all-time three pointers made list with 143. Aside from the season high in rebounds, the team also dished out a season high of 22 assists and hit a season best 43.5 percent of its three pointers.
With the win, Buffalo moves to 4-1 for the first time since 2005-06 while the Flyers drop to 5-2 and lose a non-conference home game for just the sixth time since 2004. Next up for Buffalo will be another Atlantic 10 opponent as St. Bonaventure will travel to Alumni Arena Saturday at 7 pm.