McCrea Shines in Loss at Miami
OXFORD, OH - It was another conference nail biter for the Buffalo men's basketball team Thursday night as it dropped its Mid American Conference road opener at Miami (OH), 70-67.
After battling back from a 12-point deficit mid way through the first half, it was a back-and-forth game that featured eight ties and nine lead changes. Freshman Javon McCrea was unstoppable down low and scored 26 points, the most by a Buffalo freshman since the team joined the MAC in 1998
The Bulls struggled to find an offensive rhythm early on, and head coach Reggie Witherspoon turned to various lineup combinations to help snap the early funk. He didn't need to look any further than his young forward in McCrea, who hit five field goals and had four offensive rebounds in the first half alone. Fellow freshman Jarod Oldham also was a strong point in the opening half, filling in for Byron Mulkey with five points in the first half.
With the young combo helping the offensive flow, Buffalo chipped away and pulled within one point at halftime thanks to a Zach Filzen buzzer-beating three pointer. It would turn out to be his only field goal in the game as he struggled to a six-point effort. After Miami took its largest lead of 12 points, the Bulls went on a 14-3 run from the 8:04 left to the 3:57 mark of the first half.
The team took its first lead with 12:54 to play in the game after McCrea slammed home an offensive rebound to give the team a 48-46 lead. Overall, the Buffalo reserves ended up outscoring the starters with an impressive 39 points, with Miami getting just 11 off the bench. Jawaan Alston had a quietly solid evening, pulling down eight rebounds and scoring six points to go with three assists, playing well with McCrea for much of the game before fouling out.
Buffalo continued to shoot well overall from the field against the Redhawks but it failed to convert from outside, going 3-9. That came back to haunt them in the critical moments of the game after Miami hit a three pointer to break a 65-65 tie with 28 seconds to play. Two free throws from Filzen brought the Bulls to 68-67 but Miami converted two more from the charity stripe to wind up with the final of 70-67. Filzen had a clean look with the time running out but couldn't find the same luck he had in the first half and it rimmed out.
The loss robbed the Bulls of a chance to even its record at 1-1 along with the rest of the East Division of the MAC. Now 0-2, Buffalo will next face Akron at home this Sunday at 2:00 pm in a critical game in the early going of MAC play.