They say it’s hard to beat a team three times.
Buffalo had beaten Miami handily twice during the regular season, once by 28 points and another by 24 points. The second-seeded Bulls found that old saying true on Thursday evening, struggling to put the seventh-seed RedHawks away until late in the game, surviving by a final score of 74-63 in Mid-American Conference Championship Tournament action at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
The first half saw Buffalo hold the lead throughout, leading by as many as 11 before settling on a lead of 40-32 to end the half. Josh Mballa, the 6’ 7” transfer from Texas Tech, had 16 points and eight rebounds in the opening half to set the tone for the Bulls.
The Bulls again built a 13-point lead in the second half, only to have the Redhawks cut it to 55-54 with six minutes left, thanks to a 12-0 Miami run. But Buffalo recovered from there, ending the game on a 15-5 run to seal the victory.
The Bulls shot 40 percent from the field for the game, and an even better 60 percent from three point (12 of 20). Buffalo outscored the RedHawks from the free throw line, 24 to seven. Mballa finished with a monster game, racking up a double-double with 21 points and 19 rebounds. Jeenathan Williams (20), Ronaldo Segu (16) helped pace the Bulls. Delonte Brown led the RedHawks with 17 points.
Buffalo improves to 15-7, and advances to the semifinals to face the winner of the Akron/Bowling Green game later this evening. Miami finishes its season at 12-11.