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Buffalo snaps Ohio's win streak with 86-66 blowout

Mballa, Bulls have huge 1st half to win easy

ATHENS – Ohio’s six-game winning streak came to a screeching halt with an 86-66 loss to Buffalo on Saturday at The Convo.

Josh Mballa scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half when the Bulls (12-7, 10-5 Mid-American Conference) built a 52-32 advantage. David Nickelberry had 16 points, and Jayvon Graces finished with 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Ben Roderick paced the Bobcats (13-7, 9-5 MAC) with 15 points. Jason Preston had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds but also five turnovers. Lunden McDay reached double figures with 10 points.

Buffalo shot 60% from the field in the first half and led by 30 in the middle of the second half.

"We ran into a team that was ready," Boals said. "They threw the first punch, and we didn't respond. It's an unforgiving league. We need to get ready for Kent State. It starts tonight."

A 9-0 run pushed the Bulls’ lead to 18-8 with 11:47 left in the first half. A short time later, Buffalo scored 10 straight points to take a 33-13 advantage with 7:42 remaining, and the first half was as big as 38-15 a minute and a half later.

The Bobcats came back with 11 points in a row, with a Preston 3-poitner making it 38-26 with 4:05 left, only for the Bulls to close the half with another burst to go ahead 52-32.

Dwight Wilson III, Preston and Roderick scored the first three baskets of the second half, getting Ohio back to within 14, but it was all Buffalo again after that. Graves threw down a dunk to cap a run of nine points in a row and push the Bulls’ advantage to 61-38. They held their biggest lead of 75-45 on two Mballa free throws with 10:05 remaining.

"Sometimes adversity is good," Preston said. "We'll take this, we'll learn from this. Hopefully we see them again in Cleveland."

After coming back from a knee injury with a 7-of-7 shooting performance against Eastern Michigan that put his field goal percentage over 70, Wilson had only eight points and three rebounds on 4-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes Saturday. Ben Vander Plas was 0 for 6 and scored three points with six rebounds.

Ohio shot only 37.3% in the game, including 4 of 24 (16.7%) on 3-pointers. It committed 14 of its 15 turnovers in the first half.

"I give Buffalo a lot of credit," Boals said. "We didn't match their energy level to start the game. The keys going in were to take care of the basketball, and we had 14 turnovers in the first half."

The loss drops the Bobcats into fifth place in the MAC standings with two games remaining.

The Bobcats play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kent State.

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