BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (Jan. 23, 2019) – Not even the No. 11 team in the nation could slow down the white-hot Milligan College men’s basketball team as the Buffaloes picked up their 10th straight win with an 80-75 victory over Union College Wednesday night in a massive Appalachian Athletic Conference showdown.
Tyler Nichols poured in 22 points and Aaron Levarity compiled 21 and 16 rebounds to help lead the Buffaloes (16-5, 11-4 AAC) to their first win over Union since Dec. 1, 2014. Bo Pless also chipped in a season high 14 points finishing 3-of-5 from 3-point range. The sophomore provided some big answers to help quiet potential Union second half runs.
Milligan took a 34-30 lead into the halftime break thanks in large part to an 11-2 surge to start the contest but would have to hold off several second half surges by Union to pull out the win.
The Buffs were able to extend that advantage to seven at the 16:54 mark of the second half thanks to a Pless triple, but Union would piece together an 8-0 run to capture the lead for the first time all night at 47-46. Pless was fouled attempting a 3-pointer on the next Milligan possession and netted all three free throws to give the Buffs back the lead for good.
The free throws were the beginning of an 8-0 Milligan run that saw the Buffs leading 54-47 with 13:38 to go. Union would draw as close as one at the 7:29 and 7:02 marks, but Pless and Nichols were there both times for the Buffs with the answer.
The Bulldogs tried for one more late surge trimming the Milligan lead to 74-72 with 1:14 remaining, but a well-executed offensive set by the Buffs on their ensuing possession saw Tyler Faulkenberry cut underneath the basket for a reverse layup off a nice feed by Jacob Cawood.
Nichols would pick up a steal on the ensuing defensive possession and drew a foul on the offensive end. The redshirt junior would make the pair of free throws to give Milligan a six-point lead with 38 seconds left.
Desean Green would force a Bulldog turnover on the next possession ultimately helping seal the crucial road win for the Buffs.
BY THE NUMBERS
Green joined Levarity, Nichols and Pless in double figures with 10 points and added seven rebounds along with two steals. Cawood followed with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Mike Featherston only scored one basket on the night for the Buffs, but it came at a crucial time in the second half when Union was trying to put together a run. The junior also chipped in five rebounds on the night.
Milligan shot superbly from the field shooting over 50 percent in both halves and finishing at 53.7 percent for the game. The Buffs knocked down 42.9 percent of their 3-point attempts including 5-of-8 in the second half.
Defensively, Milligan held the Bulldogs to 10 points below their season average and continue to show why they are one of the best defenses in the nation. The Buffs entered the contest No. 1 in 3-point field goal defense and No. 7 in field goal defense.
The Bulldogs, who dropped to 16-5 and 11-3 in AAC play, were led by K.J. Duronslet with 24 points and seven rebounds. Jakobe Wharton and Jabari Antwine were the only other two Bulldogs in double figures with 13 and 10 respectively.
Union’s leading scorer, DeMarkus Loman, was held to a season low seven points.
Milligan currently resides in third place of the AAC standings but are now just a half game behind Union for second place and a game behind Montreat for the top spot in the league thanks to tonight’s win. The Buffs split the season series with the Bulldogs, but still have one more contest remaining with Montreat that will come Thursday, Jan. 31, on the road.
Milligan returns to Steve Lacy Fieldhouse Saturday for an AAC tilt against Reinhardt, who they fell to 82-74 earlier in the season on the road. Tip-off is set for approximately 4 p.m. directly after the women’s game.
Story and photo courtesy of Milligan Athletics and Savannah Nocera