Defensive Effort Leads Bulls To 66-54 Victory Over Western Michigan

Defensive Effort Leads Bulls To 66-54 Victory Over Western Michigan

BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team allowed its fewest points in a MAC game since 2014 as UB came from behind for a 66-54 victory over Western Michigan, Saturday afternoon inside Alumni Arena.  UB allowed just 54 points, including only 21 in the second half, the fewest in league play since allowing just 48 to Ball State on Feb. 5, 2014.

The Bulls were led by the two-headed attack of senior Blake Hamilton and sophomore Nick Perkins, who both notched double-doubles.  Hamilton just missed out on the first triple-double of his career as he finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists. Perkins led all scorers with 21 points, while adding 10 rebounds.

Early on, the Bulls struggled on the offensive end, but due to a stout defensive effort, the Broncos were never able to pull away.  Western Michigan took its largest lead of the afternoon midway through the first half as they went ahead 16-7.  The Broncos led for the entire first 20 minutes, but a three pointer from Perkins with 2:16 left pulled UB within three.  WMU took a 33-28 lead into the break as Jarrin Randall hit a jumper as time expired.

Over the final 20 minutes, Western Michigan scored just 21 points, going 8-of-31 from the field and 1-of-6 from three-point range and the Bulls took advantage, outscoring their opponent 38-21 in the second half.  The Broncos led 36-31 with 17:30 left when UB went on a 9-2 run, capped off on a pair of free throws from Ikenna Smart to give the Bulls a 40-38 lead with 15:18 remaining.  The Bulls got a pair of fast-break baskets from Hamilton and used some big defensive plays from redshirt sophomore Dontay Caruthers, who had a pair of steals during the run, which both led to UB baskets.

Western Michigan briefly retook a 41-40 lead with 12:51 left, but a layup from Perkins ignited a 9-1 run and the Bulls never looked back.  Seven of the points in the run came from Perkins, including five from the free throw line.  The Broncos pulled back within four with 4:11 left when Perkins hit a huge three-pointer, the first of back-to-back three for the Bulls.  A triple from sophomore CJ Massinburg put UB ahead 59-49 with 2:33 left.  Perkins capped it off with his final basket with 34 seconds left, giving UB the 66-54 win.  That also was UB's largest lead of the night.

For Hamilton and Perkins, this was their third double-double of the season, respectively.  Hamilton reached double figures in assists for the second time this year, as he just missed out on the second triple-double in school history.  Perkins recorded his fourth 20-point game of the season and his first in his current role off the bench.

Senior Willie Conner finished with 12 points and three steals, while Massinburg had eight points and six rebounds.  David Kadiri finished with six points, three rebounds and two blocks.  Smart had just two points, but finished with nine rebounds, tying his season high.

Caruthers added two points and two assists, while recording five steals for the second straight game.  He did all of that while playing just 19 minutes due to foul trouble.

UB outrebounded Western Michigan, 44-41, the fifth straight game that Buffalo has recorded at least 40 rebounds and the eighth time in the last nine games.

The Bulls held Western Michigan's leading scorer Thomas Wilder to a 4-of-14 performance from the floor and six turnovers, while recording zero assists.  Seth Dugan led the Broncos with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Bulls, who have evened their conference record to 3-3, will now head on the road for their next two games beginning on Tuesday night at Miami (OH).  Tipoff is at 7:00 pm.