CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Miami RedHawks head coach John Cooper, while discussing his team’s late season success, recently noted “Our defense has sustained us.”
That defense, which also played a significant part in the RedHawks 67-59 victory in Buffalo, took a hit Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena as those same Bulls cruised to a 94-81 victory over Miami in quarterfinal action of the 2016 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com.
Buffalo (18-14) connected on just 35.5 percent overall and 32.3 percent from distance in its March 1 loss to Miami. By contrast, the Bulls hit 30-of-60 (50%) from the floor and 11-of-25 (44%) on threes Thursday. Buffalo found success both off the dribble and from the perimeter, setting . . .
"I thought our effort was good," Buffalo head coach Nate Oats said. "I thought we did a lot better job attacking their zones. They started switching zones, and they switched the defenses up. I thought we as a staff probably did a lot better job preparing them for it this time, and they did a lot better job. And it certainly helps to make some shots. When you hit 11 3s against the zone, it kind of opens it up a little bit."
Junior forward Willie Conner had the big day for UB, totaling 25 points on 6-of-12 from the field, 6-of-10 outside the arc and 7-of-10 at the free throw line, where UB hit 23-of-34 attempts.
Joining Conner in double figures were Lamonte Bearden (14), Jarrryn Skeete (13), Blake Hamilton (11 points, 16 rebounds) and CJ Massinburg (10). Skeete and Conner owned nine of the Bulls 11 triples.
Miami (13-20) hit 31-of-61 (37.7%) from the floor and 9-of-22 (40.9%) on threes. Those triples and a 26-of-33 night at the foul line allowed the RedHawks to keep UB from turning the game into a route.
Buffalo owned a 37-31 halftime advantage, but it came out of intermission with the hot shooting hand and built a 12-point lead (49-37) following a Skeete trey – the Bulls fourth triple in less than three minutes.
Buffalo’s largest lead was 17 points (81-64) following an “and-one” by Perkins and Conner trey – the latter with 4:22 remaining.
Senior guards Eric Washington and Geovonie McKnight combined for nine points in a 12-2 Miami run that brought the RedHawks within seven (83-76) with 2:00 left. Buffalo, however, regrouped and expanded its lead over the final minutes.
With the win, Buffalo advances to play No. 2 seed Ohio in Friday’s 9 p.m. (ET) semi-final. The Bobcats, who cruised past Northern Illinois Thursday, won both matches against the Bulls during regular season play. The ‘Cats cruised in Buffalo, 94-75, Feb. 12. The more recent meeting, however, was a battle. Ohio prevailed, 103-96, in overtime Feb. 27.