Western Michigan Basketball took a hard loss Tuesday afternoon to the Buffalo Bulls by a score of 69-85.
The loss extends the Broncos’ losing streak to four games. Despite some great effort and encouraging signs, WMU came up short against the Bulls at University Arena.
B.Artis White, the team leader in minutes, did not get the start in this game because he had violated team rules, and was now the second member of the squad to be benched to begin a game after Titus Wright’s violation last week.
Buffalo’s Jeenathan Williams scored effortlessly to start the contest, hitting a layup and then drawing a foul on Wright on the next possession. He made 1 of 2 free throw attempts and the Broncos were in a 3 point deficit at 5-2 with 16:51 remaining in the half.
WMU began to get their legs back a few minutes later as White checked into the game and he began to run the pick and roll beautifully with fellow sophomore Wright. The duo took the lead back from Buffalo, and after the first TV timeout Western Michigan had a slim lead of 1 with 13:54 remaining in the half.
With 9:30 remaining in the first half, the teams were still going back and forth, having an answer for whatever the other team was throwing at them. White drove hard into the paint and drew a shooting foul, made his two attempts and took back the lead at 15-14 in favor of WMU.
Junior forward Patrick Emilien had a big game for the Broncos. He started to heat up with about 6:17 remaining in the first half, when he threw down a monstrous one handed dunk on the Buffalo defense. This capped off a 7-0 run by the Broncos to get themselves back into the game, with the score being tied up at 22 after the play.
Emilien continued to gain momentum, having 8 points off the bench with 3:38 still remaining in the half. Williams kept firing back at the Broncos, getting baskets over this Broncos defense with relative ease. As a result, WMU was no longer in control and down by 3 late in the half.
The Broncos were looking strong in the first half, but needed to limit turnovers and convert on more easy baskets going into the second. At half, the Broncos trailed the Bulls 32-38.
The second half was a different story, with much of it being dominated by the Bulls. The game quickly got out of hand, with Buffalo locking down both ends of the floor and going on a lightning-quick 12-2 run just a few minutes into the period.
The Bulls continued to pull away, stretching the lead to 34-52 with 15:43 remaining. Buffalo’s 3 point attack was especially clicking in these moments, with WMU unable to come up with any answer to Williams and Josh Mballa on defense.
After a few more minutes of back and forth scoring from the teams, White again hit Wright in the paint for a bucket inside and a foul call to get the game back within reach at 58-70 with 7:22 on the clock. After Wright hit the free throw, the Broncos were 11 points away from tying the game.
That would be the closest WMU would get the rest of the game, as Buffalo came right back and scored. After two free throws by the Bulls’ Ronaldo Segu with 2:26 left on the game clock, this one was all but over.
Buffalo’s Williams was incredible in this game, continuing a great season. He had a double-double only 2 minutes into the second half and finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists. Mballa, Segu, and Jayvon Graves rounded out the double-digit scorers with each of them putting up 14 points.
Patrick Emilien showed glimpses of being a star for this WMU team, flashing his potential with 18 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. B. Artis White had his 7th game in a row in double figures with 12 points and 5 assists, while Rafael Cruz Jr. contributed with 9 points and 6 rebounds.
The Broncos now drop to 2-8 on the season. Western Michigan will next take the court when they take on Miami (OH) this Saturday at noon. The game will be at University Arena and air on ESPN 3.