The Bulls struggled from three-point range in the first half, while Western Michigan hit seven first-half three pointers. However, UB was able to use a stifling defense that forced 10 turnovers during the opening half of play, which prevented Western Michigan from taking any more than a five-point lead.
UB on the other hand, led by six points early in the game as a fast break dunk from Xavier Ford gave the Bulls a quick 14-8 lead. Western Michigan took a 30-25 lead on a three pointer from David Brown with 4:35 left.
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UB took its largest lead of the game with 5:05 remaining as Ford was able to beat the shot clock and convert on a three pointer to give the Bulls a 66-52 lead. Western Michigan cut the UB lead to seven, but a fast break dunk from sophomore Shannon Evans put the Bulls back up nine with 2:10 left. The Broncos pulled within six with 41 seconds left but late free throws from Skeete and freshman Lamonte Bearden sealed the win for the Bulls.
"We won it on the defensive end tonight with how we guarded and the pressure we put on them forcing 18 turnovers, which led to 17 fast break points," said head coach Bobby Hurley. "We scored in the lane and I thought we were in attack mode. It says a lot for your offense to be able to get 77 points when you don't shoot it well from behind the arc."
Junior Justin Moss recorded his 10th double-double of the season as he finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, finishing 11-of-18 from the floor. It was also the ninth time this season that Moss has scored at least 20 points and the 17th time in 19 games that he has scored in double figures.
Ford picked up his first start of the season and he made the most of his 27 minutes of action. He finished with 16 points, one shy of his career high, as he went 7-of-9 from the floor, while adding four steals.
Skeete finished with seven points, five rebounds and five assists, while Evans and Bearden each had six points. Bearden added six assists and two blocks and Evans added five dimes. Skeete, Bearden and Evans combined for 16 assists and just three turnovers.
Junior Raheem Johnson added six points, while senior Will Regan had five points, two rebounds and an assist. The five points put Regan over 800 for his Buffalo career.
The Bulls finished with a season-high 21 assists and tied their season-high with 13 steals. The 31 made field goals also tie a season-high set against Drexel. UB helped its own cause by holding on to the basketball, turning it over just eight times.
Western Michigan fell to 13-7 and 4-3 in MAC play. The Broncos were led by 29 points from Brown and 12 points from Thomas Wilder.
UB remains home on Friday night as it welcomes Kent State to Alumni Arena for a nationally-televised game on ESPN. The tip time for the game is 10:00 p.m. ET. Western Michigan is again on the road with a noon (ET) game at Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
(Courtesy of UB Athletics/MRO Edit)