Bulls Suffer Another Tough Road Loss at Akron, 69-60
AKRON, OH – Despite another strong performance by freshman Javon McCrea, the University at Buffalo men's basketball team dropped a 69-60 decision at Akron on Saturday night. McCrea finished with 23 points to lead all scorers and continue his pursuit of the MAC Freshman of the Year award.
The Bulls hung tough in a rowdy Rhodes Arena, but eventually dropped another tough single-digit road defeat. Buffalo dropped to 7-7 in conference play with the loss.
Early on the lead changed hands several times before a McCrea layup put the Bulls ahead, 14-11, with 13:35 left in the first half. However, the Zips mounted a 9-0 scoring run to take a 20-14 lead. The Bulls answered with an 8-2 scoring run of their own to regain a 24-22 advantage. A highlight of the run was a Zach Filzen three-pointer from the corner. It was his 95th triple of the year to give him the school record for three-pointers in a single season.
Akron held a four point advantage late in the half before Mike Clifford grabbed an offense rebound , scored and was fouled. The sophomore big man converted the free throw to cut the Akron lead to just one at the break.
The Zips opened the second half on a 12-2 scoring run to quickly extend their lead to 48-36 with 16:16 left. The Bulls chipped away and a three-pointer from Jarod Oldham cut the Akron lead to 55-53 with 8:24 remaining. Oldham had one of the best games of his young career with six points, five rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes.
The Bulls couldn't pull any closer as the Zips extended their lead to 64-58 with 1:13 remaining. Following a pair of McCrea free throws that cut the lead to four, Dave Barnett tipped a cross-court pass. However, Akron was able to corral the loose ball and Brett McClanahan hit a three-pointer with 23 seconds left to seal the win.
Filzen was the only other Bull to reach double-figures as he finished with 14 points, including three three-pointers. Byron Mulkey had five points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Bulls outrebounded Akron, 32-26, including 10 offensive boards. It marked the second straight game the Bulls outrebounded their opponent and lost.
The Bulls struggled from the free throw for the second game in a row, converting only 7-of-14 attempts. Conversely, Akron shot 17-of-19 from the charity stripe.
"They started off the second half great and we rebounded from it. I thought they hit some tough shots and hit some shots deep," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "The difference was that they shot it so well from the free throw line and the guys that we had at the line were young guys who are trying to get it together free throw shooting-wise."
Buffalo returns home to host Miami (OH) on Wednesday night at Alumni Arena. It will be Senior Night and Jawaan Alston and Byron Mulkey will be honored before the game.