CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Buffalo Bulls just could not solve the rubik’s cube known as the Ohio Bobcats during regular season play, The solution, however, came together Friday at Quick Loans Arena as UB posted an 81-66 victory over Ohio in semifinal action of the 2016 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com.
Buffalo (19-14), a No. 4 seed, will now face the No. 1 seed Akron Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). UA shook off its quarterfinal scare against Eastern Michigan to down Bowling Green 80-66 in Fridays first game.
“We came out with intensive energy in the first half. UB head coach Nate Oats said. “We made an adjustment in the second half, and . . .
Junior Willie Conner led UB with 22 points to go along with two rebounds and four assists. Blake Hamilton added 20 and sophomore Lemonte Bearden added 15 with six rebounds and nine assists. Freshman Nick Perkins came off the bench to score 14 with five boards
No. 2-seeded Ohio (21-11) came into the semifinal having won three of its last four games, including a 103-96 overtime win over Buffalo in late February.
“We just weren’t efficient offensively.” Ohio head man Saul Phillips said. “They were a touch matchup for us. We had two bigs and they played with four guards.”
All five Bobcat starters scored in double figures, led by junior Antonio Campbell, who had 16 points while pulling down 11 rebounds. Sophomore Jarron Simmons added 15 with eight assists.
The Bulls largest lead was 14 (41-27) late in the first half on a driving layup by Conner and they went into halftime with a 12-point advantage 41-29.
UB’s second-half lead fluctuated between seven and 14 points until the Bobcats made a push,closing to within five (67-62) on a three-ball by Kenny Kaminski at the 6:54 mark.
That, however, was as close as Ohio could get.
UB pushed the lead out to 17 points on two occasions and finished with a 14-point advantage.
Ohio turned the ball over just seven times, costing it eight points. Buffalo, however, won the rebounding battle 46-36. The Bulls shot 50 percent (17-of-34) in the second half and 48 percent for the game.