Going into the game, the Bulls were 5-6 but still highly regarded in our power rankings. Why? Because they have talent out the wazoo, and have shown flashes of greatness. This game was no different.
Robert Morris, a 3-9 team hosted Buffalo tonight. Isiah Still, their leading scorer, and one of only two Colonials to average double digits, was out with injury. Lucky for them, the Bulls have a habit of playing down to competition this season.
Also going in the Colonials favor was a good defense. They used this to great effect in the first half.
Buffalo started the game like so many this season, with sloppy ball handling and lazy jumpers.
As Robert Morris built momentum, the Bulls tried to get the ball inside for better looks. It worked, except they missed those. Even in the first half, it felt like one of those games. where the plucky underdog would pull it off.
The plucky underdog was up 37-25 late in the first half.
Then, the Bulls flashed their teeth. They went on a 5-0 run to end the half.
Buffalo shot better than the Colonials, rebounded better, but they turned the ball over. The 12-5 turnover deficit was the difference in the half.
The second half was much of the same. Buffalo fought back, even regaining the lead at times. There were times when I felt like the Bulls might go on a run to put the Colonials away, and there were times when I felt like the Colonials had them right where they wanted.
Great game, but there was a lot of bad basketball. Missed layups. Not one or two, but a ton. Turnovers, bad shots, the whole 9 yards. But it was from both teams, so it made for an exciting game. In fact, at one point, I called it the worlds greatest pick up game. There was talent on the floor for both teams, more for Buffalo. But they weren’t playing as a team. It was like both teams just met each other, and each teammate, and played a game. No cohesion.
The final minutes, regardless of the play, were fantastic.
Kavon Stewart, the 6 foot guard out of Paterson, hit two free throws to put the Colonials up 66-62. Then, after a steal, he got the ball, gave a teammate a high five to congratulate him on the steal, and dished a dime for a 68-62.
I thought to myself, this team, and this player, have moxie!
After Buffalo hit a couple free throws, they fouled Stewart, who hit one out of two.
69-64, with 54 second left.
Blake Hamilton responded with a 3. Then Braden Burke, with a face mask, drove, and was fouled. He hit one out of 2, and it was a one possession game. Hamilton drove in, and was fouled, hitting both free throws, making a 1 point game.
The Colonials threw the ball into Stewart in the corner on the inbounds, into a double team. That was bad. He dribbled out of trouble, which was good for the Colonials, but bad defense. Then he fell to the ground, and turned the ball over. There was some good defense from the Bulls, but it was also a bad play. Buffalo in-bounded and Massinburg missed a highly contested lay-up. Stewart ended up with the rebound, and dropped a couple of free throws, virtually ending the game. That sequence pretty much summed up the entire game.
After some more back and forth, Hamilton did get a 30 foot shot with time running out to hit a three to tie it. It went in and out. Colonials won, 74-71.
If this was just one game, I wouldn’t hold it against the Bulls. But it’s becoming a pattern.
We are almost to MAC season. Would I be shocked if Buffalo won the East, or the MAC tournament? Absolutely not. Will they do it playing like tonight, and most of the non-conference schedule? Absolutely not. Time will tell.