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Falcons unable to sustain late momentum, come up short at end

Mens+Basketball
Men’s Basketball

Trailing by as much as 17 at one point, the Falcons came back and took a one point lead with seven minutes to play in the second half.

A Jehvon Clarke jumper had the Falcon fans in the Stroh alive, but just as fast as the air filled the Stroh, the air left.

The Falcons [17-9, 9-5] committed two fouls then Buffalo guard Jarryn Skeete hit two free throws to give the lead back to the Bulls. That was the last time the Falcons led as they fell to the Buffalo Bulls [17-9, 5-6] 68-56.

“It’s always tough coming back from a deficit, we shouldn’t have ever been in that position,” said senior forward Richaun Holmes. “We did fight back, but we weren’t able to get the job done in the end. Credit them they did what they had to do to finish the game.”

The Falcons, who came into the game tied for first place in the Mid-American Conference, did not play like a first place team in the first half.

Buffalo set the tone early, crashing the boards hard and often. They began the first half with a 6-1 rebound advantage and that momentum continued as they ended the half with a 27-13 rebounding advantage.

“It was poor check out technique, too many guys watching the ball,” said head men’s basketball coach Chris Jans. “That’s what [Buffalo] do[es], especially their fours and fives, they really crash the glass. We didn’t have enough guys sticking their nose in there and being a rebounder. It isn’t about just our fours and fives, it’s about five guys doing whatever it takes to get a rebound.”

Despite Buffalo’s 14-rebound advantage and 10 offensive rebounds the Falcons were able to hold the Bulls to four second chance points.

What the Falcons could not stop though was the Bulls impressive three point shooting. They ended the half, 6-9 from behind the three point arc.

“The first half was a disaster,” Jans said.

For the first 13 minutes of the second half, that so called “disaster” looked like it would be an afterthought. The Falcons came out of the locker room and played like the first place team fans are used to seeing.

Holmes helped set the tone right away with a defensive rebound and then a put back dunk after Pep Joseph missed a layup.

“We just competed more,” Holmes said. “I don’t think in the first half we competed.”

That dunk woke up the Stroh Center and from there the Falcons used two runs to get back into the game.

A 15-4 run which featured back-to-back threes by Delvin Dickerson and a Richaun Holmes dunk in the middle of the lane that cut the UB lead to 46-41 with 10:23 to go in the game.

That was followed by a 10-4 run that ended with senior guard, Jehvon Clarke’s jumper giving the Falcons a brief one point lead.

The Falcons had all of the momentum then the wheels fell off. Henderson missed a three and then fouls by Clarke and Holmes gave the lead back to Buffalo.

“It was almost like there was too much [time] left in the game,” Jans said. “Kudos to [Buffalo] for regrouping and staying with their game plan.”

The Falcons were not out of the game by any means, but then Delvin Dickerson picked up his fifth foul of the game one minute after subbing in for Holmes, who had four.

Holmes was forced to check back in with four fouls and because of that the Falcons had to adjust their defense. They adjusted to a 2-3 zone in order to prevent Holmes from picking up his fifth foul.

The zone did that, but it also allowed Buffalo to get some open shots from behind the arc.

After guards Shannon Evans and Skeete made back-to-back threes to push their lead to eight, the air was taken back out of the Stroh.

“They made two big shots,” Jans said.

The Falcons will need to regroup after losing back-to-back games for the first time this season.

“We’ve been more of a second half team than a first half team for the most part,” Jans said. “I can’t put my finger on it, but me and my staff have to put them in better position and figure out a way to get them going.”

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