Bulls continue to curse ‘Necks

It was the running of the bulls in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, but it was the Leatherneck basketball team that was left standing in the dust as the ‘Necks suffered an 88-81 setback to the University of Buffalo.The loss to Buffalo prove to be bittersweet for the ‘Necks as they missed a chance to move into a first-place tie in the Mid-Continent Conference with Valparaiso University after VU lost to Youngstown State University later in the evening.

The ‘Necks came out striking early as they scored 12 of the game’s first 14 points to take a 12-2 edge with 16 minutes, eight seconds left.

Though the ‘Necks shot 21-of-37 from the field for 56.8 percent in the first half, the”Necks couldn’t convert on their shots as Buffalo capitalized on their mishaps to go on a 29-17 run to take a 31-29 lead with 5:20 left on the clock.

The ‘Necks kept their momentum and regrouped to come back and take an eight-point lead 41-33; however, the ‘Necks reached a turning point at the end of the first half that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Buffalo finished up strong with a 9-2 run to end the half down by two, 44-42. “The game was probably lost for us in the first half,” WIU head coach Jim Kerwin said after the game to WKAI’s Larry Derry. “The last 1:30 of the first half was a crucial time.”

The Bulls, who shot 14-of-25 from the field for 56 percent, unleashed a secret weapon in the second half by the name of Rasaun Young.

The senior guard shot 8-of-12 from the field, including connecting on 14-of-16 from the free-throw line for 32 points to keep Buffalo on pace even when the ‘Necks tried to pull away.

However, the ‘Necks suffered a major setback in the late stages of the game as foul trouble played a key point for the ‘Necks to handle when senior forward Janthony Joseph fouled out with 3:26 left, followed by junior guard Mark Buckingham with 2:17 remaining.

Joseph was one of three ‘Necks players to score in double figures with 26 points, along with senior forward Clint Ford scoring 22 points and sophomore guard Brandon Creason with 20 points

“I thought Tony (Ackerman) did a good job on Young, but when we got Janthony in foul trouble, that hurt us,” Kerwin said.

According to Kerwin, the ‘Necks had their chances but they couldn’t make up the difference to pull out the victory.

“We had great opportunities tonight, however, we didn’t cover guys twice, and we took a couple of bad shots here and there,” Kerwin said. “We can stop everybody else, but we can’t stop them.”

The ‘Necks finish the season with five of their last seven games at home, but Kerwin is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“We just have to go on and get ready for these next ballgames,” Kerwin said.

The ‘Necks hope to get back on track as they return home to play Northeastern Illinois University at 7:35 p.m. in Western Hall Thursday.