BUFFALO, NY – For the fourth straight year, the University at Buffalo men's basketball team has secured a bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament as the Bulls clinched the number three seed in the upcoming conference tournament with an 80-68 win over Bowling Green.
In honor of Senior Day, head coach Nate Oats started all five of his seniors: Christian Pino, Raheem Johnson, David Kadiri, Willie Conner, and Blake Hamilton. The confidence in his group of seniors paid off immediately as the Bulls raced out to a 15-5 lead just four and a half minutes into the game. Pino, a walk-on from Detroit, scored two points on a pair of free throws during the run.
The Bulls led wire-to-wire as a three-point play from Hamilton gave the Bulls a 25-9 lead. Buffalo continued to lead 36-21 with 2:43 left in the opening half following a layup from Hamilton, but Bowling Green ended the half on a 7-0 run as the Bulls took a 36-28 lead into the break.
Bowling Green pulled within six before UB went on a 21-8 run over the next four and half minutes, capped off on a three by Hamilton, giving the Bulls a 57-38 lead with 14:31 left. Buffalo took its largest lead of the night as Conner drilled a three with 7:09 remaining as the Bulls took a 70-50 lead.
The Falcons went on a 10-1 run as they pulled within 11, but they never got the deficit back into single figures. UB went on a late 7-2 run as another Hamilton three put UB back ahead, 80-64, with 48 seconds remaining.
Hamilton had 32 points, six rebounds, and five assists to lead UB. It was his third 30-point game of the season as he went 13-of-18 from the floor and 4-of-7 from behind the arc. Kadiri continued his strong play as he finished with 14 point and nine rebounds.
Johnson was huge on the defensive end for the Bulls as he recorded eight blocked shots, the most by a UB player since Javon McCrea had eight blocks against Northern Illinois on Jan. 8, 2014. The eight blocks were tied for third most in a game and tied for the most in a game in UB's D-I history.
As a team, UB finished with 10 blocked shots and nine steals.
Bowling Green had four players in double figures led by 16 points and eight rebounds from Zack Denny.
The Bulls will now have off until Thursday night when they begin Mid-American Conference Tournament play in the Quarterfinals. As the #3 seed, the Bulls will play the winner of Monday night's first round game between the #6 and #11 seeds. Tip off from Quicken Loans Arena will be approximately 9:00pm.
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