The University at Buffalo wasted a superb defensive effort Tuesday night and lost on a last-second shot to Ohio University.
Bobcats dead-eye Kenny Kaminski hit an 18-foot jumper with 0.8 seconds left to give Ohio a 74-72 triumph in a scratch-and-claw Mid-American Conference battle.
UB did so many things right that it was kicking itself over what should have been a big win over the MAC’s top-rated team.
Ohio ranks 21st in the nation in three-point percentage, making 39 percent behind the arc. UB held the Bobcats to 6 of 21 trey shooting (27 percent). UB held the reigning MAC player of the year, 6-foot-9 forward Antonio Campbell, to just nine points and six rebounds. UB outrebounded the Bobcats, 50-38.
Where did it go wrong? UB’s inconsistent outside shooting is a worry. The Bulls made 7 of 29 three-point shots (24 percent), and a bunch of those misses were open looks. UB made only 15 of 25 free-throws.
And UB gave Ohio free points when sophomore forward Nick Perkins lost his cool with 8:28 left. Perkins was called for his fourth foul, argued and was hit with a technical, his fifth foul. Then he complained further and was hit with another technical. They were legitimate calls.
A 55-51 UB lead turned into a 57-55 deficit. UB never got the lead back.
“We played as hard as we can play, and weren’t disciplined enough to keep our minds together for 40 minutes and get the win,” said UB coach Nate Oats. “They’re a really good team. Hats off to them. They got down 15. Campbell only played 17 minutes. . . . For them to stay in it, that’s a veteran team that’s trying to win the league.”
Perkins was over-amped throughout the game.
“He lost his mind; I don’t know what else to say,” Oats said. “He’s got a little bit of a short fuse at times. To get two Ts, that’s a selfish deal. You get tossed, well now you’re out of the game, just shut your mouth and leave.”
UB fell to 7-9 overall and 1-2 in the MAC. Ohio is 11-3 and 3-0.
UB knocked Ohio out in the MAC semifinals last March.
“It was effort, effort, effort, grind, grind, grind,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “They made plenty of big plays down the stretch, too, after they were dead in the water. The game had a little bit of everything. But one thing it definitely had was both sides were competing like crazy.”
If UB is going to be a semifinalist again this year, it’s going to have to do it with defensive effort and rebounding.
“After the Toledo game, we talked about just playing hard, playing with max effort every play,” said UB’s Blake Hamilton, referring to a blowout loss last week. “I feel like we did that tonight. But when you’re trying to beat one of the top teams in the MAC, you gotta do everything right. I hope everybody sees that it’s not going to be easy.”
UB got 17 points and 13 rebounds from Hamilton, 16 points and 11 rebounds from C.J. Massinburg and 12 points from Willie Conner. But Conner made just 2 of 9 threes.
Ohio got 14 points from Jaaron Simmons, the top point guard in the MAC, and 12 from Kaminski.
“In the first half we had one assist,” Phillips said. “Stop right there. That’s them doing a really good job. . . . People don’t do that to us.”
A crowd of 2,652 at Alumni Arena saw a wild final minute. Massinburg tied it 72-72 on two free throws with 40 seconds left. UB’s Dontay Caruthers, who played strong defense all game, was called for an iffy body foul on Simmons. After a Simmons miss, Massinburg and Ohio’s Jason Carter simultaneously grabbed a rebound, and Massinburg ripped the ball out of Carter’s hands. The referees ruled a jump ball, and Ohio retained possession.
It was a dubious call, although the fifth foul on Campbell, with 7:13 left, was just as questionable.
Kaminski took a pass from Simmons and made a shot with Massinburg in his face.
“We just set our chins and did it,” Phillips said. “These are difference-maker games. And they’re ones that at the end of the year if you don’t have, you’re not going to get to where you want to get.”
UB lost freshman forward Quate McKinzie to a broken hand in the first half. He’s out indefinitely.