Isaiah Johnson of Akron was fouled with 3.2 seconds left in a tie game and converted the second of two free throws to give the Zips a 91-90 victory over the University at Buffalo Saturday night at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio.
UB lost to Miami (Ohio) in identical fashion on Wednesday night. For old-time Buffalo basketball fans it brought back bitter memories of Jo Jo White's free throw for the Boston Celtics that ended an NBA playoff series against the Buffalo Braves in 1974.
The late call spoiled a brilliant scoring duel between Blake Hamilton of UB and Kwan Cheatham Jr. of the Zips. Hamilton, who committed the last second foul against Miami, finished with 33 points on a night he did not enter the game until after three minutes had been played. He made 13 of 16 shots, 4 for 4 from three-point range.
Cheatham. a 6-foot 10-forward with some guard skills had 31, including 7 of of 13 from three-point range. Both his points and three-point totals were career highs. Akron had a 9-0 run on three in a row by Cheatham from beyond the arc to take a 76-67 lead with 6:59 to play. That did not finish the Bulls, however.
"Buffalo has no fear of us," Akron coach Keith Dambrot told the Akron Beacon Journal.
Instead of fading away, the Bulls hit clutch shot after clutch shot, while the Zips kept going to the free-throw line. Ten of their last 15 points came at the foul line on 18 attempts.
Finally, UB tied it on a three by Hamilton with 25 seconds left. Akron got its chance to win it when David Kadiri of UB fouled the 6-10, 290-pound Johnson, who finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson was only 8 of 18 at the line before he stepped to the line for a final time.
UB had six more field goals than Akron, but were outscored 26-14 at the stripe.
"Cheatham was unreal," UB coach Nate Oats told Ohio media. "Had we not let Cheatham run wild,, we would have on the game."
Akron (18-3, 8-0 MAC) extended its winning streak to 11 games. The Zips have not lost in their last 28 home games. UB is 9-12 overall and 3-5 in the MAC.
Earlier Saturday, most of St. Bonaventure's regulars struggled through a tough shooting game and the Bonnies fell to Rhode Island, 71-59, at the Thomas M. Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I.
The loss dropped the Bonnies to 13-7 overall and 5-3 in Atlantic 10 Conference play. Rhode Island's records are exactly the same.
Bona made only 29.5 per cent of its field goal tries (18 of 61) in a game in which it trailed nearly the entire way.
Jaylen Adams led the Bonnies with 25 points on 6 of 15 shooting (40 percent), but the other four starters and sixth man Josh Ayeni were a combined 12 of 46 for 26 percent. Matt Mobley, the No. 2 scorer for Bona behind Adams, made only 1 of 10 shots and finished with nine points. Mobley and Denzel Gregg had 11 rebounds each for the Bonnies.
Rhode Island, on the other hand, shot 45.5 percent (25 of 55). Hassan Martin led four Rams in double figures with 20 points.
The Bonnies never led. The last tie was at 12-all before the Rams took over with an 8-0 run. A 6-0 run gave Rhode Island a 30-19 lead. It was 32-22 at the half.
In the second half, an 11-0 Bona run closed the margin to 55-52, before the Rams built the lead to a more comfortable working margin.
Meanwhile in women's basketball, Joanna Smith scored 27 points to lead the attack as the University at Buffalo picked up a 62-47 victory over Western Michigan at University Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich. UB (15-5, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) stayed tied with Kent State in second place in the MAC East Division. Kent State defeated visiting Bowling Green, 80-78 on Saturday.
Smith made 11 of 20 shots including 5 of 11 from three-point range. Theresa Onwuka had 11 points for the Bulls. Katherine Ups led the rebounding effort with 11. UB limited the Broncos to 26.2 percent shooting (2 of 10 from outside the three-point arc). UB shot 38.3 percent (26-68) and made 5 of 13 from three-point range.
Western's largest lead was seven points (13-6). UB went in front to stay, 18-17, on a three by Smith early in the second quarter and stayed in front the rest of the way. The Broncos were limited to just 17 points in the second and third quarters combined while the Bulls had 31 points.
Freshman Summer Hemphill (Cardinal O'Hara played only nine minutes for UB, did not score and did not take a shot or rebound for UB. She had two personal fouls and one turnovers. She sat, apparently, because UB was getting good inside play and rebounding from others. Besides Katherine Ups' work on the boards, Mariah Suchan had eight points and five rebounds in 15 minutes and forward Brittany Morrison collected nine rebounds in her 21 minutes off the bench.
Canisius (6-15, 5-7 MAAC) lost to Marist, 67-60, on Saturday night despite 19 points by Lauren D'Hont. The Golden Griffins led 30-28 at the half, but that was wiped out when Claire Oberdorf hit a three to start the second half. The Griffs' last lead was 40-39, but another three by freshman Hannah Hand, one of two twin sisters on the Red Foxes' roster, gave her team the lead for good.
Sara Hinriksdottir had 11 points and nine rebounds for Canisius, which had 12 turnovers to only seven for Marist. The biggest lead for Marist in the game was 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Niagara and St. Bonaventure women's teams will be on the road for conference games on Sunday afternoon.
Niagara (5-15, 2-9 MAAC) will face Fairfield (9-11, 6-5 MAAC) at 2 p.m. at Alumni Hall in Fairfield, Conn. The Purple Eagles are coming off a 61-45 loss to first-place Quinnipiac on Thursday.
St. Bonaventure (9-10, 4-5 A-10) puts its three-game Atlantic 10 Conference winning streak at 3 p.m. against Saint Joseph's (8-12, 5-3) at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia. The host Hawks have won five of their last six games with the loss coming by five points in overtime at Dayton. Saint Joseph's is first in the conference with a 36 percent mark shooting from three-point range. Bona won the last meeting between the two, 65-51, last January at the Reilly Center.