St. Joe's Brian Conaty (left) fouls Buffalo's John Hodges as Corey Hoshor (24) looks on for the Bison.
BUFFALO, W.Va. - The name on the jerseys said "St. Joe,'' but for Buffalo it might as well have been Huntington Prep - the national power whose players also attend classes at St. Joseph Central.The unbeaten Irish flashed balanced scoring, rebounding and ball-handling Tuesday night in running away with a 60-43 victory in a matchup of top-10 Class A teams.Iain Clarke, Brian Conaty and Payne Meadows all scored 14 points and Keith Clemons added 10 for No. 3 St. Joe (8-0), which became just the second team to beat Buffalo in its new gym that opened last season. The Bison came into Tuesday's game 14-1 at its new digs."I thought we played pretty well tonight,'' said Irish coach Ross Skaggs. "This is obviously a tough place to come. I just thought we shared the basketball very well and made good decisions.
"You go on the road and you try not to turn it over and you want to rebound. We didn't do a very good job of rebounding, but we did a good job [limiting] turnovers. We took care of the basketball and I thought our man-to-man [defense] was pretty good once we started to realize what they were doing and made some adjustments to it.''St. Joseph swiped the ball 11 times, with four of those thefts leading directly to layups at the other end in the first half, allowing the Irish to build a 33-23 lead at the break. Clarke and Conaty each had four steals in the game. Clarke's final steal resulted in a breakway slam dunk with 4:27 left to play.The Bison, meanwhile, came out stone cold with its shooting and never recovered.No. 10 Buffalo (5-2), which had a five-game winning streak halted, hit only 17 of 49 shots for 35 percent, including an 0-fer from 3-point range (0 of 13). Top scorer Laythen Good suffered through a particularly tough night, going 0 of 8 on 3s and managing just two points."We shot about as poorly as we could possibly shoot,'' said Bison coach Chuck Elkins, "then it got contagious. We just kept missing and started making ball-handling mistakes. Then once we got down, they spread it and they're athletic and it just killed us."I don't know what it was. We didn't have school today and we were just not mentally ready to go tonight.''It marked a repeat victory for the Irish over Buffalo, a team they outlasted in overtime 86-79 in a mutual season opener in Huntington. But the Bison failed to be as competitive on Tuesday, never coming within 13 points over the final 10 minutes of play."This is a fun team to coach,'' Skaggs said. "They like each other, and they like to play together. They don't really care who does what as long as things get done. I'm proud of them, but we've got a long way to go.''Buffalo, which received 15 points from Isaiah Robinson and a minimum double-double from Bradley Harris (10 points, 10 rebounds), hardly used its trademark full-court pressure defense because of matchup problems."We couldn't,'' Elkins said. "They have so many athletes that we couldn't guard them. Physically, we don't match up with them quickness-wise. They're improved.''Buffalo did lead off the boards 31-27, led by Harris. Anthony Rabel grabbed six rebounds for St. Joe. The Irish also came out on the favorable end of a 15-10 turnover ratio, and had just two turnovers in building their halftime edge.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.