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UB Bulls vs. Western Michigan Broncos live-blog

Photo by Don Nieman

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

——————End of Game, 59-57 Buffalo—————

:0.03—It hasn’t been a tough conclusion to an otherwise solid game for the 6’9, 290 pound center for Western Michigan. I can’t tell if Stainbrook is crying or just really sweaty, but you have to feel for the guy who missed two free throws with a chance to tie and win the game. Instead, WMU falls to Buffalo at Alumni. Eight straight wins for the Bulls!

:01.1—Stainbrook missed them both! Buffalo grabs the rebound, and the stadium’s electricity had to have an impact on Stainbrook’s mindset. Western Michigan’s #40 pulled his jersey over his head after the two misses, and the chants of “Stainbrook” continue.

:01.1—His first is no good, and the arena erupts! Another timeout on the floor, this one by WMU. The clock was reset to 1.1. Chants of “Stainbrook” haven’t stopped, and I haven’t heard Alumni Arena any louder this season. Tremendous atmosphere in crunch-time.

:0.4—The chant is now that “Stainbrook has a [insert female anatomy here.]” True Blue is deafening right now as Stainbrook heads to the stripe. The arena is shaking right now.

:0.4 —Buffalo traps hard in the back-court, but Western Michigan rushes the ball down the floor. Matt Stainbrook grabs an offensive rebound and is fouled by Watt! It’s 58-57 Buffalo, and Stainbrook has a chance to tie and win the game for Western from the line. So much suspense at Alumni right now. Chants of Stainbrook rain down from True Blue. He’s a 63% free throw shooter.

:21—Zach Filzen will in-bound from just inside of the midcourt line. Watt, Oldham, Barnett and Robinson on the floor. Filzen fakes a three, jumps into the lane, and scores on a short jumper! 58-57 Buffalo!

:21—Witherspoon calls for a timeout with his team trailing 57-56 with 21 ticks left. Will it be Filzen? Will it be Watt in the post? Buffalo has the options to win this one, but the loss of McCrea hurts right now.

:41—Long inbound out to Douglas. Douglas splits a double-team on his way to the bucket, absorbs contact by Titus Robinson before slipping the ball in off the glass—plus the foul! 56-56 tie with a Douglas free throw to go ahead. It’s good.

:58—Zach Filzen lofts a 26-footer with five on the shot clock, and Stainbrook clears out space and engulfs the rebound. Thirty second timeout by Hawkins, as the Broncos have a chance to tie the game or go ahead. It’s 56-54 Buffalo right now.

1:22—Flenard Whitfield picks up his fifth foul, and he trudges dejectedly the bench. Austin Richie, a shooter, replaces Whitfield in the five. Titus Robinson will shoot two more free throws after missing his last two. The first is no good. Tony Watson II enters the game to partner with Jarod Oldham in the back-court. Robinson misses his fourth consecutive free throw, but the Bulls hustle down the loose ball. Big possession.

1:22—Rumor has it that Whitney Houston has died at 47 years old. RIP.

1:43—The crowd roars in anger as Stainbrook backs into Watt—who falls hard to the ground—and then the WMU big runs and scores on a soft hook. 56-54 Buffalo leads with 1:30 on the clock—Bulls’ basketball.

2:05—Western has looked like the better team on the floor for long stretches tonight. Ward’s been relentless attacking the rim, and Stainbrook has given Watt and McCrea fits with his sheer girth. Whitfield’s numbers may not suggest an efficient game, but he’s been winning a number of loose balls.

2:45—Robinson will shoot the pair. The first bangs off the front rim and then the backboard and off. His second is short, and Whitfield boards. 56-52 still. Free throws have been a problem at times for Buffalo this season. Great tip out by Watt, who then loses the ball on a nice defensive play by Stainbrook. Thirty-second timeout by Hawkins.

3:14—Mitchell Watt earns his fourth foul battling for a rebound on the free throw. Whitfield will now shoot one-and-one, and his first won’t drop. Watson II gets a good look at a three, but it rattles out. There’s a loose ball whistle called on Western Michigan, and WMU coach Hawkins just took his jacket off. It’s a two-shot foul called on Flenard Whitfield, his fourth.

3:56—16 points, seven rebounds and five blocks for Watt tonight, and he’s been much better in the second half than the first. 56-52 Buffalo. Douglas drives right into Watt’s body, and his shot bounces off the side of the rim—great interior D by Mitch. Well-executed high-low play from Watt to Robinson, and a trailing Whitfield is forced to grab onto Robinson’s jersey. Steve Hawkins is furious.

3:56—I thought it was a good call by the official, as Stainbrook seemed set and outside of the half-circle under the hoop. A turning point in the contest, for sure, as Buffalo’s offense runs best through the beastly #12. Javon closes with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes.

4:46—Mitchell Watt dribbles laterally to lose the huffing-and-puffing Stainbrook before finishing on a short hook shot. Missed jumper by Western, and Nuiriank corrals. Four point lead for the Bulls. McCrea bulls his way into the mid-section of Matt Stainbrook, and McCrea has earned his fifth and disqualifying foul after the charge. Wow.

5:22—54-52 Buffalo, and Whitfield still has a free throw coming. It’s no good, but Nate Hutcheson tracks down the offensive rebound off a missed free throw. Cannot have that. Ward’s three is no good, but it bounces right back to him. The human eraser Mitchell Watt stuffs Flenard Whitfield’s drive to the rim—a block at a big moment after Western seemingly won every loose ball.

5:50—Tony Watson II lurks on the left wing and drains a deep trey! Hutcheson misses his three from the left corner, and Buffalo has a four point lead with the ball. Stainbrook rejects Watson II’s half-hearted shot in the lane, and then Flenard Whitfield scores against a ton of contact by Javon McCrea, who earns his fourth foul.

6:22—Good save by Stainbrook off a bad pass inside, and then Whitfield challenges the Bulls’ Titus Robinson at the rim, and again Whitfield is bailed out with a foul. He’ll shoot two. Good touch on the first free throw. Whitfield is long on the second. A small girl just ran onto the floor, and she was scooped up at the last minute by a complete stranger.

6:39—A fake pass and a strong drive baseline by Watt draws a foul on Whittington. Stainbrook re-enters for Whittington. Watt hits his first free throw to put Buffalo ahead 51-49, but he clanks the second.

7:31—Auraum Nuiriankh drills the front end of a one-and-one to tie the game, then nails the second to put the Bulls head by one. Crucial block by Jarod Oldham, who maneuvered down into the block for help defense, and then Oldham shielded the ball out of bounds, much to the frustration of WMU’s Whitfield.

7:31—Under eight timeout, 49-48 Western Michigan. The crowd has become increasingly frustrated with the referees tonight, as several calls have bailed out Western. Often close calls will favor the home team, but it hasn’t been so tonight at Alumni. The Bulls are still shooting 17% from three.

7:52—Out-of-rhythm three by Nuiriankh isn’t close again, and Matt Stainbrook grabs a great weak-side feed from Flenard Whitfield, but Titus Robinson appears out of nowhere to cleanly rip the ball free. WMU’s Stainbrook gets a little overzealous defensively at the other end, earning his third foul.

8:40 —A sign of life from Jarod Oldham, who throws a long lob to Mitchell Watt, who had a clear lane to the hoop because of a good screen from McCrea down low. Mitchell Watt earns his fourth foul—but there’s some discussion over whether or not the foul was on Watt or McCrea. Matt Stainbrook appeals for a call, but he should have shot the ball, Hawkins yells at him.

9:34—Bad call on Mitchell Watt, who accidentally turned into Brandon Pokley. Offensive foul, and not what Witherspoon wanted out of a timeout. Strong defense from Nuiriankh, who leaped into a passing lane to tap the ball out of bounds. Austin Richie squeaks free for a jumper from the left corner—it’s no good—and Auraum Nuiriankh is there for the board.

10:25—Austin Richie collides into the middle of Mitchell Watt, and that’s a charging call on WMU! Watt tries a skip pass for Watson II in the left corner, but it sails wildly out of bounds. Big three from Austin Richie, as Filzen was a tad late in closing out on his man. 49-46 Western, and there’s a hand-check called on Ward, his second foul.

10:47—13 points and six rebounds for Stainbrook tonight in one of his best performances since his benching in mid-January. Watson II curls off a screen off the in-bounds and nails a 14-footer. Big bucket, as it ties the game at 46.

10:47—46-44 Western Michigan at the under 12 timeout. Finding themselves down by seven, the Bulls suddenly showed a sense of urgency in responding with five quick points—a three by Filzen off a second chance and a well-executed transition play to Watt. Buffalo’s still 3-17 from three for the game.

10:47—Dave Barnett launches a three that’s not even close to the rim, but Mitchell Watt is pushed to the floor as the players scrum for the rebound. Foul on Western’s Shayne Whittington, who heads to the bench for Stainbrook.

12:07—Javon McCrea picks up his second foul, and Brandon Pokley’s first free throw drops. The second is good too, and it’s 46-39 Western Michigan. Javon McCrea’s strength wins the battle for an offensive rebound, and his kickout to Zach Filzen leads to a drained three! Barnett switches the ball to Tony Watson II, who makes a smart entry pass to Watt, who finishes with a hook! 46-44 Western, and that was a lightning quick 5-0 run.

12:37—Nice find by Dave Barnett with a baseline bounce pass to McCrea for an easy lay-in. Pokley, Whittington and Loney enter for WMU, while Watson II and Watt re-enter for Buffalo—here’s a chance for the Bulls to go on a run. Watt angrily rejects Whittington, but Western beats Buffalo to the loose ball again.

13:42—Javon McCrea finally checks back in the Buffalo—the Bulls have missed him dearly as he’s sat for a good chunk of the second so far. Reverse lay-in by Titus Robinson after a nice dish from Dave Barnett! 42-37 WMU. Demetrius Ward misses a three from straight-on, but Stainbrook snags the board, and Douglas scores on a drive down the left baseline. Seven point Broncos lead.

14:41—Foul away from the ball on Western Michigan’s Demetrius Ward, and head coach Steve Hawkins yells, “Let’s get the same call down here!” Dave Barnett clangs a three of the in-bounds, and Stainbrook “skies” for the rebound. Soft right-handed hook from Whitfield is no good, but Hutcheson keeps possession, and Demetrius Ward sinks a three from the right corner. Too many extra chances for the Broncos.

15:29—Stainbrook scores again off glass from five feet—he’s the furthest thing from a pretty player, but he’s got great hands inside and takes up a rather absurd amount of space. Oldham bricks a three, and the ball bounces around to Stainbrook. Reverse layup is missed by Hutcheson, who’s baffled why he doesn’t get a call this time either.

15:44—Under 16 timeout, 37-35 Western. The Bulls crowd recognizes Roosevelt, who’s announced over the PA system by Brad Riter of AudioBuffalo fame.

15:56—Hutcheson pushes Oldham to the floor after the Bulls’ point guard turned the corner, but there’s startlingly no call. Considerable backlash from the Bulls fans, and Witherspoon is having a rather animated talk with one of the zebras during this TV timeout. 37-35 WMU, as the Broncs are on a 14-5 run.

16:11—Full timeout for Buffalo, as Witherspoon tries to correct myriad defensive lapses. Seniors Dave Barnett and Titus Robinson check into the game—maybe there’ll be fewer breakdowns with more upperclassmen in the game.

16:48 —Great roll on Flenard Whitfield’s un-guarded 10 footer after a strong offensive rebound from Stainbrook. Bad pass from Nuiriank to Watt, and Ward nips in for the steal. Instead of driving hard to the rim in transition, Ward pulls up and launches a three! It’s good! Reggie Witherspoon just spiked his clipboard to the floor—he’s furious. 37-35 Western Michigan.

17:53—Mitchell Watt scores on his patented left handed hook, but Demetrius Ward responds with a three from the deep right corner for Western. Watt steps out and nails a three from the right side! Matt Stainbrook scores an easy bucket in the block, however, after Buffalo didn’t hustle back.

18:14—Zach Filzen dives on the floor for a loose ball, but it ping pongs over to Flenard Whitfield, who draws a foul on Auraum Nuiriankh, his third. Witherspoon again yells at Watt from the bench.

19:13—Defensive lapse from Buffalo leads to an uncontested layup for Mike Douglas off a great chest pass from Hutcheson. Watt misses a three from the right side, and Hutcheson pulls down the board. Demetrius Ward misses a scoop with his left, but he tracks down his own board.

19:54—Western continues playing man-to-man defensively. Mitchell Watt fights on the offensive glass for a rebound and a put-back. Shayne Whittington was slow to arrive, as Watt took advantage of the extra second to finish and draw the foul. Free throw is good—great start for Watt, and Buffalo leads 30-23.

Halftime—Western might lead the MAC in body fat. Both Stainbrook and Demetrius Ward likely have double-stuffed Oreos on their bedside tables. Naaman Roosevelt sighting near the scorer’s table at halftime, sporting a Boston Red Sox trucker cap.

Halftime—Eastern Michigan posted the MAC West’s best win over the East today, thumping the Ohio Bobcats 68-55 at Eastern. Ohio’s loss is a good sign for Buffalo, because if the Bulls can clinch one of the top two records in conference, they’ll earn three straight byes into the MAC Tournament semifinals. That’s a new tournament set-up this year, and it does well to reward teams that excel in the regular season.

Halftime—Javon McCrea leads all scorers with 12 points on 5-6 shooting, and Zach Filzen shockingly leads all rebounders with six. Titus Robinson (seven points and four rebounds) has been strong off the pine. Point guard Jarod Oldham has been quiet (no points, three assists) and Mitchell Watt has drawn the ire of Witherspoon on several occasions. Watt is 0-3 from the field, but he has blocked three shots.

Halftime—Western Michigan shot a miserable 9-33 from the floor in the first half, so the Broncos are lucky to only trail by four. The Bulls were 1-9 from beyond the arc, but controlled the glass to the tune of a 26-19 rebounding advantage.

——————-Halftime, 27-23 Buffalo———————

:23—Jarod Oldham knifed into the lane and dished back to Dave Barnett, who eventually drew a foul on Brandon Pokley after grabbing his own offensive rebound. The East Aurora native misses both free throws badly—the second was close to banking in.

1:22—27-20 Buffalo. Richie hits the second from the line, and Dan Loney enters the game to replace Richie. Shayne Whittington blocks Cameron Downing’s offensive rebound put-back attempt, and WMU takes over. Mike Douglas rains down a three from the right corner after a smart kickout from Demetrius Ward, who seemingly dribbled the ball around the perimeter forever. 27-23 Bulls.

2:03—Hutcheson rejects Titus Robinson, who caught a pass off a screen-and-roll, then spun to the left block only to see his floater blocked. McCrea loses his defender briefly, catches a pass six feet from the hoop, and dumps a pass to Titus Robinson for a lay-in. The Bulls’ bigs have above average passing ability, for sure. Austin Richie at the line to shoot two for WMU, and he clanks the first.

2:58—Dave Barnett flies down the right baseline and scores short off the glass. Stainbrook hauls in the offensive rebound after a missed Hutcheson three and draws a foul on McCrea—his first. Stainbrook hits one of two free throws. 25-20 Buffalo.

3:52—Matt Stainbrook hits the floor hard before Mike Douglas can throw the inbounds pass, and the whistle is blown on Mitchell Watt, his second. Stainbrook backs down Titus Robinson and spins himself into good position, but he misses the gimme. Titus Robinson takes the ball directly at Stainbrook at the other end of the floor and scores! Not to be outdone, Stainbrook takes it back at Robinson at the other block and finishes over Titus’ outstretched arms.

3:52—Under four timeout, Buffalo leads 21-17.

4:25—Nuiriankh bricks a jumper from the right wing, and Broncos’ Austin Richie tears down the rebound. Barnett checks back in after Nuiriankh earns his second foul. Richie finds Hutcheson for a three—it’s no good—and Ward can’t track down the rebound. Steve Hawkins whines that Ward was pushed as he tried to save the loose ball.

4:44—Demetrius Ward’s three from the right wing isn’t close, and Zach Filzen secures the easy rebound. Titus Robinson bounces out to the perimeter to throw the high-low pass to Watt, and WMU’s Flenard Whitfield holds Mitchell Watt on the opposite block.

5:44—Fine hustle play by Dave Barnett to track down his own miss. Offensive foul on Barnett, however, and the ball goes back to the Broncs. Hutcheson pleads for a foul from the referee, but he doesn’t get it—he made a nice move to his right but plowed into two Buffalo defenders. Mitchell Watt walks at the other end and flips the ball over his head in frustration.

7:32—Lazy pass along the perimeter by Western Michigan is picked off by Javon McCrea, who coasts down the floor for a vicious left-handed jam. 19-14 Buffalo. Titus Robinson cuts through the lane and scores on a reverse layup! Matt Stainbrook fails to finish in close with his left, but Demetrius Ward stops the bleeding with a three pointer from the right wing. 21-17 Buffalo.

7:58—17-12 Buffalo at the under eight media timeout. Both teams are struggling mightily to score right now.

8:35 —Flenard Whitfield battles inside against Mitchell Watt, but Mitch draws the foul. The first free throw doesn’t fall, but the second does. 17-12 Buffalo. Wild up and under by Whitfield is rebounded by Stainbrook. who kicks it back out. Ward pulls up for a 14-footer from the left baseline, and it doesn’t fall—Barnett, however, mistimes his jump on the rebound and tips it out of bounds.

9:17—Flenard Whitfield finds room in the paint and connects on a right-handed runner. “Stainbrook sucks” chant coming from True Blue right now. Watt’s three rolls in and out, and a bullet pass from Demetrius Ward to a sealed Stainbrook results in another WMU hoop.

10:10 —Watt gathers himself in the left block, but shuffles his feet in the process. Stainbrook slips down the lane—as quietly as a 6’9 man can slip—and scores with his left off the window. 14-8 Buffalo. McCrea quickly responds with another lefty lay-up using the rim as protection against Stainbrook.

10:34—Dave Barnett airballs a 22-footer for Buffalo, and there’s awkward silence in the arena for a second. Good defense by the Bulls at the other end, however, results in a Bronco turnover—credit Watt and Barnett for a sound switch.

11:37—Matt Stainbrook enters the game with two fouls and immediately scores over Mitchell Watt—the big fella has a soft touch near the rim. At the other end, Raley-Ross travels after Stainbrook hedges out on him. Whitfield misses a three footer short, and McCrea does a more than adequate job of blocking out Stainbrook.

11:54—The 6’9 Whittington is a redshirt sophomore who began his college career at South Dakota State before transferring to WMU. Ironically, the Bulls play South Dakota State in the ESPN BracketBuster on Feb. 18. Corey Raley-Ross checks in for Buffalo.

11:54 —Unstoppable dribble-drive and scoop shot with the left hand by Javon McCrea leaves Whittington completely helpless. Under 12 timeout, 14-4 Buffalo. Western Michigan still has only field goal for the game.

13:14—Demetrius Ward misses a three from the left wing, and two taps by Shayne Whittington can’t get the ball close to the rim. Titus Robinson finds room inside on a cut, but the ball is poked away by Dan Loney. Robinson corrals the board again, but his kick out bounces past Watson II and out of bounds.

13:33—Tremendous defense by Dave Barnett on Demetrius Ward, forcing the Western Michigan swingman into a travel. Barnett kept his feet moving and his arms high—Ward couldn’t wriggle free without shuffling his feet. That’s Barnett’s calling card, and he’s hugely valuable to Bulls’ head coach Reggie Witherspoon.

14:28—Austin Richie’s three with two on the shot clock from the left wing clangs off the rim, and Buffalo takes over. Mike Douglas of WMU is shadowing Filzen in man-to-man defense. Buffalo’s Javon McCrea slices down the lane and draws a foul. The first free throw is good. 11-4 Buffalo.

15:35—Hutcheson sinks both free throws from the stripe. Steal for Western Michigan after a poor ball-screen by Buffalo. After a missed jumper from the corner by Hutcheson—who has the lowest release point of any 6’7 forward I’ve ever seen—and Stainbrook is called for an offensive foul. At the other end, Stainbrook immediately commits his second foul, and he’s back to the bench. Whittington replaces him.

15:35—Terrific start for the Bulls, as the Buffalo frontcourt has established itself as a menace. Matt Stainbrook, the 6’9 290 pound center who’s been in head coach Steve Hawkins’ doghouse recently, checks in the game for WMU.

15:35—Under 16 timeout, 9-2 Buffalo. Western Michigan has connected on only one of its first eight shots. Media breaks are little longer today since it’s an ESPN3 game in Buffalo.

15:41—Zach Filzen cuts backdoor and Mitchell Watt hits him with a bounce pass—the help defender from WMU arrives, but Filzen floats a runner over the defender’s head, off glass and in. 9-2 Buffalo.

16:21—Huge three from Zach Filzen from the left corner after Jarod Oldham pushed the ball up the floor after securing a rebound himself. McCrea rejects a shot from Whitfield, and the WMU forward taps the resulting loose ball out of bounds. Dave Barnett checks in for Nuiriankh.

17:04—Auraum Nuiriankh is short on a three-pointer from the right wing for Buffalo, and then Titus Robinson enters the game for the first time for Buffalo. Nuiriankh is called for a dubious hand-check foul as he helped on a double-team against Nate Hutcheson.

18:10—Shayne Whittington gets a “welcome to Buffalo” greeting from Mitchell Watt, as the 6’10 senior’s wingspan annihilates Whittington’s soft hook. Javon McCrea awkwardly banks in a 15-footer—unintentionally—and Buffalo leads 4-2. Great hustle from Nate Hutcheson on the block at the other end, but his falling away floater is no good.

19:03—Good defense by Watt to hold his ground against Whitfield, forcing him into a terrible shot. Buffalo boards. Watt can’t hit the wide-open free throw line jumper, but Javon McCrea wins the offensive rebound in a forest of low-post Bronco defenders. The ball bounces out of bounds to WMU, however.

19:58—The Bulls are wearing their royal blue uniforms for the only time this year at home. Javon McCrea takes the entry feed from Oldham, absorbs two defenders and scores off glass. He’s so strong. 2-0 Buffalo. Whitfield scores on a right-handed hook from five feet over Mitch Watt, however, tying the game.

Pre-game—Really cool font for the Western Michigan names on the back of the Broncos’ jerseys. Flenard Whitfield, Mike Douglas, Demetrius Ward, Nate Hutcheson and Shayne Whittington are WMU’s starters.

Pre-game—The rousing UB pump-up video shown on the brand-new video board incites some energy from an excellent Saturday crowd in Amherst. The Bulls’ starting lineup is being announced as we speak: Jarod Oldham, Javon McCrea, Mitchell Watt, Auraum Nuiriankh and Zach Filzen.

Pre-game—The University at Buffalo Bulls basketball team is firing on all cylinders right now, and Reggie Witherspoon’s club returns to the cozy confines of Alumni Arena for a tilt against the MAC West Western Michigan Broncos.

TAGGED: college basketball, javon mccrea, mac basketball, ub bulls, university at buffalo, western michigan broncos

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