Point guard Mickey Woods scored 15 of his 21 points while the Buffaloes dashed to a 56-29 halftime lead and they stretched the advantage to as many as 35 (69-34) before coasting to an 88-65 Appalachian Athletic Conference victory.
Milligan (9-6, 15-8) has won six of its last seven. The loss was 102-94 at No. 22 Union.
The Buffs made second-place Bryan (9-5, 14-11) look like cellar dwellers. Sophomore wing Kurt Brooks (12 points) made all three of his 3-pointers early, including one that capped a game-opening 17-2 run with 16:02 remaining.
The decisive burst from the starter’s block also featured a transition dunk from Cartree Pettis which he parlayed into a three-point play. The athletic Pettis appeared to leave the court a step or two beyond the left block.
“It was nice, it was real nice,” Woods said. “I wish that somebody would’ve got a picture of that in the air. It’s an awesome picture if somebody got it. That’s the highest I’ve ever seen him jump.”
Milligan coach Bill Robinson wanted to cheer on the high-leaping dunk.
“I’m always a fan when I see them attack the rim like that,” Robinson said.
One of Pettis’ eight assists came on another crowd-pleaser — Torian Sitton’s dunk — via a lob in transition with four minutes left in the game. Fast-break points came early and often.
“We actually added a new drill this year just to work on advantage situations,” Robinson said. “And to be great, you have to convert on those opportunities every time you get them. We’re not a great free throw-shooting team, so we’ve gotta find other ways to make sure we can score.”
There was no shortage of options Saturday. Sitton, an athletic wing, scored 19 points, post Morgan McLeod added 18 and Brooks (12) and Pettis (10) also scored in double figures.
Brooks was 3 of 5 from 3-point range and Woods was 3 of 4.
“If our perimeter game’s going,” Woods said, “that helps get the ball to Morgan and Chris (Ellis) … so they can pound those guys inside.”
Woods needed only seven field goal attempts for 21 points. He was 8-for-8 at the foul line.
“He’s playing great right now,” Robinson said. “He’s just playing confident. He’s running the show. I mean, he’s our quarterback on the floor — making the calls offensively, making the calls defensively. I trust him to put the game in his hands and let him do what he does. When he’s shooting the ball well we’re hard to beat.”
Woods sees a team peaking at the right time, and said a seven-game losing streak (Dec. 15-Jan. 8) has ultimately revealed character.
“We’re probably the best team when we play like we did tonight,” Woods said. “Just at that tempo — that’s textbook Milligan basketball.”
Milligan outrebounded the physical Lions, 42-38. Bryan dominated the boards (55-36) in the previous meeting.
With game out of hand, tempers nearly flared.
“I think every game with Bryan — it’s unpredictable,” Woods said. “They’re pretty physical. It gets chippy sometimes.”
Physical 6-foot-2 forward Brandon Cole led Bryan with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Guard Caleb Tuck made 3 of 5 treys en route to 15 points.
“They just outplayed us big-time tonight,” Bryan coach Don Rekoske said. “They beat us in every facet of the game. That’s really the bottom line. We weren’t very good tonight, they were really good and they beat us in about every facet of the game. At no point, did we compete like we normally do. …
“Woods is a very good player — one of the better players in the league, for sure.”
Milligan travels to Reinhardt on Wednesday.
Bryan (women) 75
Freshman 5-foot-9 wing Kristen Lane scored 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds to help Bryan (12-4, 17-8) beat the Lady Buffs. The Lions outrebound the Lady Buffs, 43-33.
Robyn Anthony’s short, transition leaner got Milligan within 69-66 with 1:08 left, but Keila Formont answered 12 seconds later with a 16-foot pull-up near the top of the key that triggered a 6-0 run.
Two Lane free throws essentially sealed it at 75-66 with 26.6 seconds remaining.
Junior Chelsey Weddle had 15 points and eight rebounds for Milligan (11-6, 15-10). She made 4 of 9 shots from 3-point range.
Lindsee Price was also 4 of 9 behind the arc and finished with 14 points. Allison Jones made 2 of 4 trey attempts, including a 25-footer beyond the top of the key.
Milligan launched 38 treys in all, and made 14. That percentage (36.8) was better than they were at the foul line (4-12).
Bryan was 18-22 at the foul line (81.8 percent).
Jenna Ray scored 13 points for Bryan. Kelsey Brooks added 11.
Price had six steals for the Lady Buffs, who visit Reinhardt on Wednesday.