The Buffalo Bulls (14-9, 5-5) men’s basketball team played the Eastern Michigan Eagles (12-10, 2-7) on Tuesday, Feb. 4, as the ninth game on Eastern Michigan’s MAC conference schedule. The Eagles came into this match 1-7 in the conference, their win being against the Toledo Rockets. Buffalo came into this game 5-5 record, but fell 66-62 on the road.
Eastern Michigan came out with a strong start to the game, gaining a 9-3 lead over Buffalo with the help of a tip-in from Boubacar Toure, and a 3-pointer from Thomas Binelli. Buffalo shot their way back into the game, tying the score at 9-9 with a three from Gate Grant. The game remained close, both teams trading scores until Binelli broke the gridlock with a 3-pointer to put the Eagles up 13-17.
The Eagles kept raining points, with Ty Groce assisting Binelli’s scoring efforts by scoring nine points in the first half. This brought the game’s score to 30-35 in Eastern’s favor at halftime. Eastern Michigan opened up the second half with a dunk from Toure, but Buffalo responded and clawed their way to a 37-37 tie with 16 minutes left.
Buffalo pulled ahead to a 48-45 lead with 10 minutes to go, but Eastern Michigan was hard on their heels. With five minutes left, Derek Ballard Jr. scored an and-one basket to give the Eagles a one-point lead.
Groce then followed that up with an and-one of his own, giving the Eagles a 61-58 lead over Buffalo and effectively pushing the game out of reach for Buffalo with a final score of 66-62. Groce led scoring for the Eagles with scoring 14 points and playing more minutes than anyone else in the game with 38 minutes.
Binelli and Darion Spottsville tied for second in scoring with 11 points each. The Eagles played a strong defensive game, forcing Buffalo to shoot only 18% from beyond the arc, while stealing the ball 12 times. Yeikson Montero led both teams in steals with five, while Groce grabbed four. The Eagles also converted off of Buffalo’s mistakes quite well, scoring 17 points off of Buffalo’s turnovers.
The Eagles will be on the road for their next two games as they head to face the Akron Zips on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. After that, Eastern Michigan will go up against rival Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. EMU will return home after that, though, versus Western Michigan.