The University at Buffalo’s weaknesses were exposed at a terrible time Tuesday night.
The Bulls lost their regular-season home finale to cellar-dwelling Miami, 67-59, at Alumni Arena.
The Bulls aren’t a good perimeter shooting team and don’t have a strong low-post presence. Miami packed in its zone defense and slowed down the pace of the game, preventing UB from getting points in transition.
The Bulls couldn’t hit enough shots outside to prevent an upset.
The loss dropped UB from fourth to sixth place in the Mid-American Conference. UB fell to 16-14 overall and 9-8 in the MAC.
UB has only a long-shot chance for a top-four finish and a bye into the MAC quarterfinals. It will need to win its regular-season finale at Bowling Green Saturday and get plenty of help to get back into fourth place.
The fifth- through 12th-place MAC teams play a first-round tournament games at on-campus sites on Monday.
Miami won its third straight and improved to 12-18 overall and 6-11 in the MAC.
UB made 10 of 31 three-pointers and shot only 35.5 percent overall from the field. Miami outscored UB in the paint, 32-22.
UB was led by Blake Hamilton, who scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Jarryn Skeete had 11 and Willie Conner 10.
Miami got 21 points from Geovonie McKnight.
First half: UB held a 29-26 lead at intermission. Both teams looked a bit ragged on offense. Miami played mostly zone defense, and UB had trouble getting baskets inside.
Five of UB’s first seven shots were from behind the arc. The Bulls hit three of them, by Skeete, Lamonte Bearden and Hamilton. But UB was quick to settle for the three pointer for most of the first half.
The Bulls hit 6 of 14 three-pointers. UB averages only 20.6 three-point attempts per game. Miami followed suit. The RedHawks hit 4 of 13 three-point tries. Miami averages only 17.8 three-pointers per game, third fewest in the MAC.
Bearden hit a driving layup with 3:30 left to give UB a 26-21 lead. But the Bulls could not pull away. Miami got a three-pointer from Washington and an easy layup from L.J. Livingston to tie it. Massinburg hit a three-pointer from the wing with 51 seconds left to give UB its halftime edge.
Miami shot only 34.5 percent from the field in the first half. UB shot only 35.5 percent.
Hot foe: Miami posted big upsets at home in its two previous games. The RedHawks beat first-place Akron, 77-64, a week ago. They knocked off Kent State, 74-65, on Saturday. Miami had lost by 29 to Akron in the first meeting and by six to Kent State.
Senior night: The Bulls honored seniors Skeete and Rodell Wigginton before the game. Skeete was playing in his 117th game and made his 93rd start. He entered the game with 872 points, 239 assists and 172 career three-pointers. Wigginton is completing his second season after transferring from a Florida junior college. Wigginton started for the 16th time in his 65 games. Both Skeete and Wigginton are from Canada. UB played the Canadian national anthem before the game.
Pre-game tribute: UB held a moment of silence in honor of Bulls football player Solomon Jackson, who died Monday. Fans held up signs with Jackson’s number (41) that had been passed out before the game.
Back in USA: UB freshman Nikola Rakicevic rejoined the team last week after missing five games due to the death of his mother. Rakicevic spent several weeks in his native Serbia. He was in uniform at Ohio Saturday but did not play. He saw action vs. Miami.
Senior-laden: Miami has an unusual roster. The RedHawks have seven seniors on scholarship, no freshmen and just one junior. The lone junior is a walk-on who transferred from a Division III school. Miami would have had three juniors but two Australian sophomores from last season opted over the summer not to return to the school.
Series: UB won the first meeting, 77-60. Miami leads the series, 22-14, but UB had won the previous six games.
In the house: Attendance was about 5,000.
Up next: UB visits Bowling Green at 7 p.m. Saturday. UB beat the Falcons, 88-74, two weeks ago.