MUNCIE, IN – For just the second time in nine trips to Worthen Arena, the University at Buffalo men's basketball team beat the host Ball State Cardinals, 66-63, on Wednesday night. It was the Bulls' second-straight win to improve to 2-3 in Mid-American Conference play.
Buffalo's last two trips to Worthen Arena resulted in losses by a combined three points and this game, too, was close throughout. There were seven ties and 11 lead changes in the game with neither team leading by more than eight points.
Buffalo got off to a sluggish start offensively, falling behind, 9-1, but played solid defense to keep the game close. The Bulls trailed, 31-29, at the half. McCrea and Regan combined for 21 of UB's 29 first-half points.
Buffalo started the second half on a 12-4 scoring run and Auraum Nuiriankh's second three-pointer of the second half put the Bulls ahead, 41-37, with 15:39 left. Ball State responded and took a 49-46 lead with 8:29 left, before Tony Watson came off a screen and drained a three-pointer to knot the game at 49 with 8:12 remaining.
Regan hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to put the Bulls ahead, 53-52, with 6:44 left. As a team, Buffalo made seven three-pointers in the game, including five in the second half. A pair of Raphell Thomas-Edwards free throws gave the Bulls their largest lead of the game, 57-52, with 5:08 on the clock.
A 6-0 scoring run by Ball State gave the Cardinals a 58-57 advantage with 3:52 left. The teams traded baskets before McCrea drove the baseline for a dunk to give UB the lead for good, 61-60, with 2:41 remaining.
However, the biggest shot of the night came from Regan who, with 8.9 seconds left on the clock and the Bulls leading by one, hit his career-best fourth three-pointer of the night to extend the UB lead to four. Regan's three was far from conventional as his straight-on shot hit the back of the rim, bounced straight up in the air, before falling through the net.
McCrea added a team-high seven rebounds and a pair of blocks to go along with his 24 points – snapping his double-double streak at three. Watson finished with nine points and a game-high seven assists.
"We did a better job rebounding the basketball in the second half and I think that certainly did help," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "The biggest thing is that we are learning to grind out wins whether it be at home or on the road. Anytime you can go on the road in conference play and win, it's a huge win."
Buffalo will next play at Akron on Saturday night.