BUFFALO, N.Y. - Central Michigan was able to hold Javon McCrea to his season scoring average but Buffalo's second big man, Cameron Downing, hurt the Chippewas with 21 points as the pair combined for 38 of the Bulls' 42 points in the paint in Central Michigan's 91-73 loss.
The Chippewas (9-11, 2-5 MAC) had to play catch-up from the beginning, but the Bulls (8-13, 3-4 MAC) had an answer every time CMU got close.
An 8-0 run just past the midway point of the first half turned an 11-point deficit for the Chippewas into just a three-point margin when Finis Craddock hit a three then followed it with back-to-back steals. But Buffalo retuned the favor with an 11-0 run to take its largest lead of the game, 36-22.
The pair of steals were two of six by Central in the first half and 11 during the game, contributing to 19 Buffalo turnovers. But the Chippewas were able to turn those into just 11 first-half points, shooting 35 percent from the floor (9-26) and 21 percent from long range (3-14). The home team, meanwhile, knocked down 62 percent of its first-half shots (16-26) to grab a 43-30 advantage.
The Chippewas shot better in the second half, hitting 45 percent for their best shooting half in three games, but couldn't slow down the Bulls who had their sixth 80-plus scoring game of the season.
The Bulls' lead was down to 10 on several occasions and the Chippewas' used more turnovers by the Bulls to finally cut the deficit to single-digits with 6:07 to go. But Buffalo was able to hold off any Chippewa hopes with a solid 23-of-26 night at the line while Central shot just 7-of-29 (24.1%) from long range.
"It was a three or four-possession game most of the way but we were not able to knock down the shots to make it a full comeback," said head coach Keno Davis. "Buffalo did a great job of pounding it inside. The game was won on the inside with their experience and size under the basket and their three-point shot was falling tonight."
Buffalo hit a season-high 57.7 percent from the floor (30-52) and finished 8-of-19 from long range.
Kyle Randall led the Chippewas with a game-high 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting and Blake Hibbitts recorded a career-high 17 going 5-of-7 from the floor. The Bulls had five players in double-figures, including Auraum Nuiriankh's 18 points and 10 rebounds.