Bulls Capture First Ever Victory at Toledo, 65-59
TOLEDO, OH - The University at Buffalo men's basketball
team captured its first ever victory at Toledo, 65-59, on Saturday
evening at Savage Arena in front of a crowd of 4,565.
Rodney Pierce Following a jumper by sophomore Mitchell Watt to start the contest, Toledo (3-21, 0-10 MAC) held the lead for the entire first half. The Rockets managed to score 24 of their 38 first-half points in the paint.
Trailing by nine at 6:38 remaining in the first half, the Bulls (12-9, 5-5 MAC) managed to trim back the Rockets' lead to just one point. Starting at 4:18, the ball would exchange hands six times until senior Rodney Pierce stroked a three off an in-bounds pass by fellow senior John Boyer to cut the Rockets' lead to 34-31 at 1:54.
In a span of 20 seconds, Watt scored four points to chisel away at the Rockets' lead, 36-35. With 17 seconds remaining, the Rockets would storm down the court to recapture their three-point lead before Watt tipped in a rebound at the buzzer to pull the Bulls within one at the break, 38-37.
In what started as a second half plagued by turnovers, Buffalo managed to take control of the lead for the second time in the contest off a pair of free throws by senior Calvin Betts, 49-48, at the 12:43-mark. Less than a minute later, the Rockets tied the contest at 51-51 off a three by Jake Barnett.
Off a layup by Max Boudreau, the Bulls captured the lead once again, 53-51. Buffalo held the lead for the next seven minutes until the contest became tied up at 59-59 off a layup by Barnett at 4:46.
In the next minute, the Bulls and Rockets turned the ball over a combined five times with neither team finding the basket. Following a Bulls' timeout, Pierce worked his way towards the basket, firing a shot just outside the box to take a 61-59 lead. Pierce's shot sealed the victory for the Bulls as Boudreau and senior Sean Smiley each added a pair of free throws for the Bulls' victory, 65-59.
Pierce led the Bulls with 16 points and four assists. Betts and Boudreau added 11 points each while Watt scored 10 points. Pushing through injury, Boyer showcased a strong effort under the basket with five rebounds, all defensive.
Toledo's Jordan Dressler scored a game-high 19 points, combined with five rebounds. Barnett finished the night with 14 points and a game-high six rebounds. In the first half, Toledo came out shooting 61.5 percent compared to the Bulls' 48.5 percent to take the lead at the break, 38-37. The second half was a different story as the Rockets shot a mere 40 percent, quite a drop from their first-half shooting ability. Buffalo improved in the second half to shoot 52.9 percent, shooting a consistent 50 percent for the game.
"I was upset with the first 25 to 28 minutes. To start, we were in a hurry offensively and scored some points but then we opened the second half in a worried state of mind. In the final 12 to 15 minutes, we were back to a determined style of defense, which we are accustomed to," said head coach Reggie Witherspoon.
The Bulls controlled the boards, outrebounding Toledo, 31-23. Buffalo especially controlled the Rockets in terms of offensive rebounds with only six. When outrebounding their opponent this season, the Bulls are now 11-1.
Buffalo returns home on Wednesday, February 10 versus West Division opponent Eastern Michigan with the tipoff set for 7:00 pm.