AMHERST, N.Y. - Limiting Buffalo's leading scorer to four field goals and having defensive success in a full-court press could have been key components in a Bowling Green State University win yesterday.
BGSU accomplished those feats, but offensive droughts to start both halves and excessive fouling led to another Falcon loss.
Buffalo beat BGSU 81-67, dropping the Falcons to 9-18, 5-11 in the Mid-American Conference. The loss ensures BGSU will play on the road in the first round of the MAC tournament a week from today.
The Falcons fell down 8-0 to start the game, and the Bulls went on a 12-0 run to take a 15-point lead in the second half.
"That just killed us," junior guard John Floyd said. "We're not good enough to be able to overcome that."
"The run that really determined the game was to start the second half," BGSU coach Dan Dakich said. "Their easy baskets off turnovers and our inability to defend them. And then our ability to stay out of our way a lot of times."
Buffalo improved to 17-11, 7-9. Buffalo senior Calvin Cage, one of the league leaders in 3-pointers, did not make one yesterday in front of the crowd of 3,888 at Alumni Arena. But he, like the rest of the Bulls, was able to get to the free throw line, making 13-of-14 to finish with 21 points.
Buffalo finished 32-for-39 from the line, and Bulls players were fouled seven times while making a basket.
Martin Samarco led the Falcons with 23 points. With his seven 3-pointers he set the single-season school record for 3s, breaking Keith McLeod's previous total of 89 set in the 2001-02 season. Samarco has made 94 this season.
At one point in the first half the Falcons had a seven-point lead after climbing out of an early hole, and trailed by just three going into halftime. But at the start of the second half the Falcons' rebounding troubles cost them. Junior center Yassin Idbihi scored six points in the Bulls' run, four off offensive rebounds. Idbihi and Mario Jordan, the Bulls' big men, combined for 38 points and 20 rebounds.
"I thought [Idbihi] was just bigger and better than the guys we had inside," Dakich said.
With five steals, Floyd led a BGSU effort to trap the Bulls' guards in the backcourt in the second half. That coupled with Samarco's hot shooting helped the Falcons eventually whittle Buffalo's lead to under 10 points with less than five minutes to play.
But two plays in 30 seconds took away the momentum BGSU had gained. With 1:54 remaining and the Falcons down eight, Cage was fouled with one second left on the shot clock. At 1:31 and the Falcons down nine, Jordan blocked Samarco's 3-point attempt and drove down for a dunk, getting fouled by freshman Brian Guerin.
"The effort was there again tonight, it's been there all year," Floyd said. "Like coach said, we just can't get out of our own way as far as giving up these runs."
NOTES: In the first game since second-leading scorer Steven Wright left the team, Guerin and freshman Darryl Clements took over most of Wright's minutes. In 14 minutes Clements had four rebounds and two assists. "It's a tough situation, to lose one of your better players," Floyd said. "I thought Darryl Clements, especially, came in and battled really well. Hopefully he can get some confidence going into Miami." ... BGSU tied the school record for 3-pointers in a season with eight yesterday. The total for the year is 204, tying the 1996-97 team's total. ... The Falcons' last home game of the season is Wednesday against Miami.
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