It was a sweet going-away party on Saturday afternoon for Javon McCrea, but it was he who delivered the finest present of all. The Buffalo Bulls defeated the Bowling Green Falcons 88-65 on Saturday afternoon to win their first ever outright MAC Eastern Division championship.
In his final regular season game with the Bulls, McCrea scored a career-high 34 points and moved within three of the 2,000-point barrier. He dressed that up with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. He also sank 13 of his 18 shot attempts and fell just shy of a ridiculous 75% conversion rate. He also made seven of his 10 free throws and even drilled his first career 3-pointer. It was a complete masterpiece from the guy who should win MAC Player of the Year.
Of course, McCrea's performance was not the only gem in a day that saw the Bulls dismantle one of the MAC's best defenses. Jarryn Skeete earned 11 points off the bench by making a trio of 3-pointers, and a pair of treys from Josh Freelove led to 10 more points. Overall, nine different players scored for the Bulls, who made 49.2 percent of their field goals and 78 percent of their free throws.
Bowling Green, who continues to have depth issues, simply could not keep up. Cameron Black had one of his best days of the season as he led the Falcons with 19 points and all players with 11 rebounds. He picked up the slack for Richaun Holmes, who dealt with foul trouble and ultimately scored an uncharacteristically-low four points. Holmes did, however, have three blocks to tie BGSU's career record.
The Falcons out-rebounded the Bulls, but more than anything else, turnovers doomed them. BGSU committed a comeback-killing 16 turnovers and could only force five from Buffalo. As a result, the Bulls had a 25-5 edge in points off turnovers.
The game was back-and-forth during the early minutes of the first half and was close for the duration of it. With just two minutes left in the period, the Bulls led by only five. However, a couple of turnovers in those final two minutes by Bowling Green resulted in the Bulls scoring the final five points of the half. Buffalo went to halftime with a 41-31 lead.
BGSU was able to keep within 10 points for the first few minutes of the second half, but an extended seven-minute run of 18-3 by Buffalo ended any serious threat from the Falcons. With less than 10 minutes to play, BGSU trailed 66-42. Bowling Green did go on a 16-5 run of their own to cut the lead down to 13; however, McCrea revived the Bulls with a layup with five minutes remaining, and the Bulls cruised from there.
Buffalo improves to 19-9 overall and 13-5 in the MAC. The Bulls will enter the MAC tournament as the #3 seed and play their next game on Thursday night in the third round. Bowling Green drops to 6-12 in the MAC and 12-19 overall. The Falcons are now locked into the #10 seed and will play a road game on Monday night in the first round of the MAC tournament.