AKRON, OH – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team had its four-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night as the Bulls got down early and fell at Akron, 83-71. The loss drops the Bulls to 18-9 and 12-5 in the MAC, still one game ahead of the Zips in the MAC East heading into the final regular season contest.
Akron got off to a quick start in front of the home crowd, racing out to a 21-7 lead just six minutes into the ball game. The Bulls continued to trail by 14 with 12:19 left when they went on an 11-0 run, capped off on a layup from senior Javon McCrea. The Bulls would cut even closer as a pair of free throws from freshman Shannon Evans pulled the Bulls within one with 2:44, but those would be UB's last points of the half as Akron went into the break up, 35-30.
Senior Joshua Freelove was scoreless in the first half, but came out firing in the second half, hitting a three to open the final 20 minutes, en route to 17 second-half points. UB opened the second half on a 17-7 run, taking its largest lead of the game at 47-42 with 14:49 left. The Bulls continued to lead by five when Akron went on an 11-0 run to retake a 56-50 lead with 10:47 left in the second half.
A three from sophomore Jarryn Skeete cut the deficit back to three, but the Zips went on another 15-5 run to take a 71-58 lead with 3:18 left. The Zips went on to score their final 13 points from the free throw line over the final 3:18 of the game to preserve the lead.
"It was a hard fought game and I knew that it was going to be a really difficult game for us tonight based on our first meeting," said head coach Bobby Hurley. "We dug ourselves into too big of a hole early on, but I was proud of our guys for fighting back."
Freelove led the way for the Bulls for the second straight game as he had 17 points. He went 6-for-8 from the floor and 4-for-6 from behind the arc in the second half. McCrea finished with 15 points, moving him up to 1,963 for his career.
Evans rounded out the double figure scorers with 12 points and a game-high five assists. Junior Will Regan finished the night with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds, Jarod Oldham finished with six points, five rebounds and three assists before fouling out.
Sophomore Justin Moss gave the Bulls good minutes off the bench as he finished with seven points in nine minutes.
Akron had three players in double figures led by 25 points from Quincy Diggs and 17 points from Demetrius Treadwell.
The Bulls were outrebounded, 36-28, snapping a streak of eight straight games where they had outrebounded their opponents.
UB will wrap up the regular season on Saturday afternoon when it hosts Bowling Green for Senior Day. Tip off is set for 2:30 pm and prior to the contest the Bulls will honor their five-member senior class. UB is still fighting for seeding in the upcoming MAC Tournament. The Bulls can finish no lower than the three seed, but can still become the two seed with a victory on Saturday and a Western Michigan loss.