Bulls Lose to Yale, 63-59
EVANSVILLE, IN - The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic tournament, hosted by the University of Evansville, came to a close for Buffalo (1-4) Saturday evening, with the Bulls losing 63-59 to Yale (1-3). In a foul-riddled affair, the two teams shot a combined 34 percent from the floor.
The Bulldogs led for much of the first half, eventually taking a lead at the the 11:02 mark in the first half that it would hold onto until the Bulls tied the game back up with 2:37 to play in regulation. After a free throw from Will Regan broke an 11-all tie, Yale went on a 9-2 spurt.
After the Bulls got back within three, 25-22 with 5:47 to go, Yale responded with a 12-0 run in just over a minute of play to take its biggest lead of the game. Amani Cotton's three pointer at the 5:15 mark would be the team's final field goal of the half, though, allowing the Bulls to use an 11-2 run to trim the deficit to 36-33 at the half.
Javon McCrea had arguably his worst game of his career from the field, but still would lead the team in scoring for the game with 17 points. That was in large part to one of the best games by a UB player in program history. The junior forward went 10-10 from the line in the first half to offset the 1-7 shooting performance, and he finished the game 13-14 at the line and 2-11 on field goal attempts. That came in large part due to Yale's interior defense, mimicking the strategy that Western Illinois used the night before.
He was joined in double figures by Jarod Oldham, who had a career game as he made it a habit to slash and attack the Yale defense. The UB point guard set career highs in points and rebounds and recorded the team's first double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He would also throw in three steals.
The second half was a sloppy performance from both teams. Yale would shoot 5-19 from the field, but the Bulls would not do much better with a 9-28 performance. The difference in the second half would ultimately be fouls. The teams combined for 46 fouls in the game and 57 free throws, but it was Yale's advantage at the line in the final 20 minutes that was the X-factor. It would take 21 free throws in the second half, compared to just eight for Buffalo.
The Bulldogs went ice cold from the field almost immediately in the second half, with Austin Morgan hitting a three pointer at the 17:43 mark that would be the team's last field goal for almost 10 minutes of game time. Yale would go 0-7 over the stretch, but it was free throws that would preserve its lead.
Despite the ice cold offense, Buffalo would only outscore the Bulldogs 11-10 during the critical stretch, as Yale hit all eight free throw attempts and the Bulls were called for six fouls in that span. That would put Yale in the double bonus for free throw attempts with 9:21 left in the game. A steal and lay-up from Justin Sears broke the streak and gave Yale a 51-44 lead, but Buffalo would make one last burst to make it a game.
With the score 53-46, Auraum Nuiriankh hit a three and McCrea followed with two free throws to bring it within two at the final media timeout with Oldham at the line to try and tie it. He would make only the second, but after rare 0-2 performance at the line on the other end by Yale, Buffalo had a shot to take the lead with 3:06 to play.
Javon McCrea was again fouled and had a chance to give the team its first lead since the 18:41 mark of the first half, but he missed his lone free throw of the game and could only tie it at 55-55 with 2:37 to play. On its next possession, Yale hit a dagger three pointer to snatch the lead back for good. The Bulldogs hit three free throws and a break-away lay up to hold off any final comeback chances for Buffalo.
The team's week-long road trip comes to an end. Next up is another road game, on Tuesday against Big Four rival Canisius. Tip off is scheduled for 8 pm.