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NCAA Tournament final score: Buffalo Bulls fall short, West Virginia Mountaineers win 68-62

The Bulls eventually beat the press, but they still fell short to WVU.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

March never fails to disappoint, but the MAC's leading scorer did. That doesn't define the player, just the moment, and it was a costly one. A great game, but the 12-seed Buffalo Bulls fell to 5-seed West Virginia Mountaineers 68-62.

The Bulls got off to a very poor start. That'll happen to teams that don't have to prepare for a full-court press all year long, needing to get some actual game action to get the real feel for how the press works against you. The Mountaineers got off to an early 7-0 run very early on until Lamonte Bearden made it to the free throw line to give the Bulls their first pair of points.

WVU just kept pounding on while Buffalo was still trying to figure out how to get more than two or three passes off, getting the lead up to 20-7, but things started to click once Mountaineer shots started to miss and some solid play by Bearden on the fast breaks and finding better shots from other players got them to close the gap 27-19 within about five minutes.

Buffalo kept clawing away in the first half, led by sophomore guard Shannon Evans who had 7 points at the half. But the Bulls had 12 turnovers by then, which is what WVU wanted as they had the lead 36-26.

Then things just started to work out in Buffalo's favor. Good defense, being more confident in breaking through in the full-court game, a few noteworthy shots hit, and some missed shots by WVU, just little things like that working in unison helped the Bulls get and stay in it.

Shannon Evans made a pair of 3-pointers out the gate, as well as making both of his free throws. Justin Moss went to the line 11 times, making seven of his 13 total points. If he didn't have four fouls against him for the game, he may have been more offensively active.

Devin Williams had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Mountaineers, had to come out of the game with 6:21 left in the half for a minute during free throws, hurting his ankle when he awkwardly came down for a rebound. He'd come right back in, but he was just slightly banged up from it.

Xavier Ford came through big time late with a pair of 3-point shots, assisted by Bearden. One time to cut the WVU lead to 2, and another time to tie things up at 62 a piece.

1:43 to go in the half, WVU is up 64-62. Jarryn Skeete calls a timeout with only eight seconds left on the shot clock. After the timeout, WVU was running man on the inbound. Justin Moss was only guarded by Devin Williams. With enough space around, Moss pushed off of Williams, putting him to the ground. Whether it should've been a called foul or not, Moss received the pass and missed the wide open set-in underneath the basket. That could've changed everything.

Instead, a quickly-drained 3-pointer by Tariq Phillip and a pair of free throws made by Gary Browne was just enough to ensure the win for WVU.

The Bulls season comes to a close as West Virginia still plays on. The winner out of the Maryland Terrapins and Valparaiso Crusaders will play West Virginia in the Round of 32.

Game Leaders

Player Buffalo West Virginia
Points Xavier Ford (16) Devin Williams (17)
Rebounds Justin Moss (7) Devin Williams (9)
Assists Lamonte Bearden (6) Juwan Staten (7)
Blocks 3 tied with 1 Jon Holton (1)
Steals Xavier Ford (2) Jevon Carter (2)