This is yet another demon that will haunt the University at Buffalo, another headache-induced moment to gnaw at the team's thoughts.
The Bulls' 111-107 double-overtime loss to Kent State on Wednesday was perhaps the most riveting in recent memory in Alumni Arena, highlighted by career highs of 37 points by Calvin Cage and 30 by Roderick Middleton.
But the extra 10 minutes never should have happened, and that's why the Bulls are drained and perhaps a bit demoralized.
UB (16-9, 6-8 Mid-American Conference) will lament how it blew a 13-point lead with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. How feeble transition defense freed up Kent State's Kevin Warzynski for back-breaking three-pointers that helped the Golden Flashes climb back in the game. And how lack of execution on offense prevented the Bulls from pulling off their biggest league win since Ohio University on Jan. 26.
The Bulls understand one thing: They fumbled away a golden opportunity.
"This is one of the most disappointing losses I've had here at Buffalo," said junior forward Yassin Idbihi, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in 45 minutes before fouling out. "We lost this game because of our lack of concentration. We can't just give away games like this, we just can't do that."
Will they be able to rebound from this unsettling defeat and stay within striking distance to host a first-round game in the MAC Tournament? They entered the night with a No. 7 seed and must finish in the top eight to host a game. The Bulls can take their minds off league matters on Saturday when they travel to Iona for a BracketBusters game before heading to Ohio for the rematch against the Bobcats on Feb. 22.
And how long will this distressing memory linger?
"We had a lead with three or four minutes left in the game, and when it comes down to that, you just have to get stops," said Cage, who finished seven points shy of tying Mike Martinho's school record for most points scored in a game (44 versus Rochester in 1998). "We didn't get stops, and on the other end we didn't execute."
Kent State (18-7, 12-2), fighting for the No. 1 overall seed in the Mid-American Conference, wasn't looking for another encore after two overtimes. DeAndre Hayes gave the Golden Flashes a five-point lead with 1:56 left, and UB couldn't get closer until Middleton's three-pointer at the end of the game. It was Middleton who sent the game into the first overtime with a jumper in the lane with five seconds left that tied the game, 81-81. Hayes had a clean look at a three-pointer just before the horn, but the shot rolled out.
The Bulls led, 72-59, in regulation when Warzynski went on a tear. After a basket by Nate Gerwig, Warzynski drained back-to-back three-pointers. Haynes hit a basket, then Warzynski hit three more and added a free throw. Jay Youngblood joined the act with a three with 1:15 left, and UB's lead was trimmed to 79-77.
"We didn't run the floor well enough defensively," said UB coach Reggie Witherspoon. "We were not strong enough with the basketball to win."
Kent's biggest play defensively was Omni Smith's steal of a Cage pass that Smith converted into a layup and foul. He gave Kent an 80-79 lead with 57 seconds left. Warzynski added a free throw with 18 seconds left before Middleton sent the game into overtime.
"I hope it was a game someone could enjoy from a fan's standpoint," said Witherspoon. "We lost our concentration and we didn't execute defensively what we wanted to do."
UB is hosting a BracketBusters party for Saturday's game against Iona beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the UB Center for the Arts. The game is being broadcast on ESPN 360.
The Bulls added junior football tight end Chad Upshaw to the roster, but he did not play.