The University at Buffalo’s loss against Temple on Wednesday didn’t score any basketball style points and the Bulls hope it doesn’t become a trend.
The Bulls were held to just 39 points, their lowest point total in nine years and the fifth time the team has scored 60 points or fewer this season. UB’s offensive woes have resulted in a 2-6 start, the program’s worst since 2000-01 heading into a 7 p.m. game tonight against 3-2 St. Bonaventure (Radio 1230 AM, 95.7 FM) at the Reilly Center, where the Bulls are winless in three tries.
UB-St. Bonaventure headlines a full slate of Big 4 basketball this weekend.
In women’s hoops, the Bonnies (3-4) have dropped their last four games, but open play in the Toledo Tournament against winless Southern (0-5) at noon, while Niagara University (2-3) hosts Kent State (0-6) at 2 p.m.
Canisius College (2-3) plays at 2 p.m. this afternoon at Akron (5-1), whose last two victories have come against Providence and St. Peter’s. The Golden Griffins ended a three-game losing streak with a 61-48 win Tuesday at Binghamton. UB (1-6) looks to end a four-game losing streak at Bucknell (4-2) at 7 tonight.
On the men’s side, Niagara (2-4), who fell on the road at Iona on Wednesday, 83-72, in its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener, plays its third of a five-game road trip at 2 p.m. Sunday at Central Michigan (3-3). Canisius College (4-1), which defeated Maryland-Baltimore County on Thursday, 83-65, is idle until next Friday when it opens MAAC play at Fairfield.
Meanwhile, UB’s quest starts with finding more balance offensively. Junior Javon McCrea and sophomore Will Regan (Nichols) have accounted for nearly 50 percent of the Bulls’ offense.
“Some of it is guys have to be comfortable enough to be assertive in these different roles that they’re in,” UB coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “Some of them were guys who were productive last year but were in different roles.”
The Bulls need more from two starters in particular: Juniors Auraum Nuiriankh and Corey Raley-Ross. Nuiriankh, a 6-foot-6 swingman, is aggressive offensively but his shots simply aren’t falling (23 percent) while Raley-Ross, a 6-3 first-year starter, has made only two three-pointers in 10 attempts.
Temple left Nuiriankh and Raley-Ross virtually unguarded until they proved they could make shots and neither did. Nuiriankh was 1 of 7 while Raley-Ross missed his only attempt in eight minutes of play.
“We need to have some perimeter guys who can’t be left unguarded,” Witherspoon said.
Last season opponents double-teamed McCrea or leading scorer Mitchell Watt in the post at their own risk because of the outside shooting of Zach Filzen, who shot 39.9 percent from three-point range.
“Zach’s not here anymore, so there’s a lot of guys around me this year,” said McCrea, who is 11 points shy of 1,000 for his career. “I went through it in high school and a little bit last year as well so I’m kind of used to it. I try to get my teammates some shots and hopefully they’ll make them.”
Without a consistent outside threat, teams can sag around the 6-6 McCrea and the 6-8 Regan, who has connected on 8 of 12 from long range.
“Will is getting good,” McCrea said. “We’re all just young and we’ll grow up at some time.”
The Bulls’ perimeter players will have their hands full with the Bonnies, especially with leading scorer Chris Johnson and Eric Mosley off the bench. Mosley scored a personal high 19 points in St. Bonaventure’s 69-64 loss Wednesday at Ohio University. Johnson, who finished with 17 points, hit a floater that put the Bonnies up, 64-63, with 49 seconds left before D.J. Cooper answered with a three-pointer with 38 seconds left that put Ohio up for good.
Demitrius Conger missed a three-pointer with 23 seconds left and the Bobcats held on from there.
Johnson has elevated his game from a year ago when he averaged 6.4 points, and his shot selection has been excellent in averaging 16.6 points on just 10.8 shots a game.