UB 59, Western Michigan 57
How UB Won: Solid student support helped push the crowd total to more than 4500 and might well have been a factor at the finish. Western Michigan's Matt Stainbrook stepped to the line at the student end with 1.1 seconds left needing one to tie and two to win. He left both on the front rim and the Bulls completed their sweep of the West to run their winning streak to eight games.
Player of the Game: Mitchell Watt didn't seem himself in the first half but finished with 16 points, eight boards and six blocks. He short hook over Stainbrook made it 56-52 with 4:48 remaining and was UB's last field goal until Filzen's winner with 11.4 seconds on the clock.
Player of the Game II: Stainbrook is an interesting specimen -- a 6-foot-9, 290-pounder with a Kurt Rambis look to him and amazing agility for his size. He had 15 points (on 7 of 9 from the field), 11 boards and will be terrorizing the West for another two years. He's only a sophomore.
Stat of the Game: UB missed seven straight free throws beginning with 6:39 left and ending when Dave Barnett made the second of two with three-tenths of a second left. That kind of performance will get you knocked out of the tournament in a hurry.
Stat of the Game II: UB became just the third East school to sweep a season series against the West. Kent and Akron have done it multiple times. In fact, Kent has won 30 straight against the West dating to 2007.
They Said It . . .
Western coach Steve Hawkins on the new playoff format: "I like it and I don't like it. This is going to sound incredibly self-serving here in a minute but keep in mind that I said it before we ever got into this season too. I love the format in terms of it being the double-bye for the top two seeds. . . . I think it's deserved if you can get through this league. And the thing that's so dangerous, I've been in it now 12 years, you'd hate to see a team get No. 1 seed and then get knocked out in the first or second round, and that's very possible in this league. . . . Now the recommendation that we coaches made and moved forward that I didn't even realized didn't get passed until earlier this week, was that the division winner would get no worse than a 4 seed. Now we recommended that back in our fall meeting, spring meeting, I don't remember know which one it was. We recommended if you win your division that's worth something. Now whoever wins the West ... it's going to be very difficult for them to get all the way to a 4 seed."
Zach Filzen on sweeping the West: "I think it's big. Obviously in this conference it's such a battle you need to play well every single night to get a win."
Titus Robinson on the sweep: "I say it's huge. While we're going through the West we have to go on the road and play in some tough environments. This is the first time we've done it and we wanted to make history and we have."
UB Coach Reggie Witherspoon: "We knew this was going to be a challenge because they're good at one of the things we're really good at, which is rebounding."
What It Means: The Bulls remain alone in second place in the overall standing, a game behind Akron and one ahead of Kent.
In the House: A nice crowd of 4,561 at Alumni and a show of force by the student body.
Next Up: The Bulls finish up MAC play with five straight against the East beginning Tuesday at Kent.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Mid-American Conference | University at Buffalo