EVANSVILLE, IN - After a spirited first half that featured five ties and ten lead changes, the Buffalo men's basketball team fell victim to a cold shooting hand in a 67-58 loss to Western Illinois. Will Regan and Javon McCrea each had 13 points, but the Bulls shot only 39 percent in the game overall.
The first half was as even as the team has had all season, with the Fighting Leathernecks using outside shooting to earn a 32-31 halftime lead, hitting 5-8 threes. Buffalo was able to keep pace thanks to an efficient low-post offense that Regan spearheaded. Working the high-low game with McCrea, Regan hit five of seven shots - mostly layups - and scored 11 points in just 12 minutes of action. McCrea assisted on three of the makes, and also had eight points and two blocks in the opening half.
As the closing seconds of the half counted down, though, the Bulls suffered what would be a major injury. Senior guard Tony Watson went up for a three pointer and landed on his opponent's foot, twisting his ankle and forcing him to miss the rest of the game.
That injury would come back to haunt the Bulls, as the Leathernecks packed the paint in the second half and forced UB into a perimeter-oriented offense. While the team did hit four of five three pointers in the final 20 minutes, it went an uncharacteristic 4-19 on two-point field goals and was outrebounded 20-15 by Western Illinois.
"In the first half we didn't dig in defensively and get stops," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "In the second half we dried up offensively. They packed into the lane and we had some open shots that we didn't take. When our offense is missing shots, we need to be sure that we're still rebounding the ball well and we didn't do that in the second half."
The team, which came into the night averaging 21 turnovers per game, committed only 10 but forced only eight turnovers against a Leatherneck team that had 19 in the previous game.
Jarod Oldham was the team's only other player in double figures for scoring, hitting a pair of threes en route to 11 points. Western Illinois had an even offense, with six players scoring eight points or more and sixth-year senior Ceola Clark scoring a game-high 20.
Buffalo's marathon week will come to an end tomorrow, with a 6 pm tip off against Yale.