Hilltoppers Drop Final Game of Homestead to Buffalo, 77-67

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball couldn’t complete a perfect five-game homestand Wednesday night, falling 77-67 to Buffalo at E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Bulls (5-3), the preseason MAC favorite and one of the most experienced teams in the country, made 13 3-pointers and outrebounded WKU 42-28, pulling down 17 offensive rebounds with 13 second-chance points.

That snapped WKU’s four-game winning streak built up on its home court.

“Give Buffalo a lot of credit,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “They came in and I thought they were really good. Two areas, we were really concerned about. One area was rebounding the basketball. That’s a strength of their team, particularly when you play some zone that’s really a weakness.

“… You chop that up, and a big stat then, they make 13 3s and we make three. That’s a lot of things to overcome right there. 30 points difference at the 3-point line. And then offensive rebounding. And we were still right there but didn’t have that mental edge. But give them credit. Buffalo played well tonight and made shots.”

The Hilltoppers (5-4) led by as much as eight in the first half, but Buffalo turned the tables with an 8-0 run.

The Bulls led 40-35 at halftime, a lead WKU erased by the first media timeout of the second half.

A 3-pointer by senior forward Jairus Hamilton gave the Tops a 50-49 advantage with 14:10 remaining, but a missed WKU dunk on the next possession turned into a transition 3 by Buffalo’s Keishawn Brewton.

That was the start of a 14-2 run for the Bulls, including an 11-0 burst with three more 3s – two more from Brewton. That made it a 63-52 lead for Buffalo with 10:16 remaining.

The Hilltoppers clawed back to within four at 65-61 with 5:54 to go, but Buffalo’s Ronaldo Segu countered with a 3-pointer. WKU never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Sophomore guard Dayvion McKnight led WKU with 18 points and four assists, while Hamilton had 15 points off the bench in his return from a back injury. Graduate senior guard Camron Justice scored 14 points.

Josh Mballa paced Buffalo with 19 points and nine rebounds, including six offensive boards.

“We weren’t really boxing out,” McKnight said. “For us, I feel like if we would’ve done a fundamental boxout, we’d have had limited their offensive rebounds. We were just trying to outjump them and obviously that didn’t work.

With its five-game homestand now complete, WKU returns to the road for a neutral-site game against Ole Miss in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event in Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. CT Saturday. The game will air on SEC Network.