BUFFALO, NY – It was an emotional evening for the University at Buffalo men's basketball team on Friday night as the Bulls celebrated their past, present, and future during an emphatic 84-73 victory over Bowling Green to cap off the regular season. The Bulls set school records for wins in a season and conference victories as UB tied Tennessee for the nation's longest home winning streak at 26.
The past was celebrated during half time as UB hall of famers Rasaun Young saw his #11 raised to the rafters, celebrating a career that at one point saw him has UB's all-time leading scorer, an honor he had until the 2014 season. Tonight, Young, along with 6,709 in attendance, saw the present Bulls come away with a wire-to-wire victory over the Falcons, including watching senior CJ Massinburg pass him on the all-time scoring list for the second most points in school history.
The future is what is still ahead for this nationally-ranked Buffalo teams as they prepare for a run in the Mid-American Conference Tournament and ultimately the NCAA Tournament. The MAC Tournament run will begin on Thursday in the quarterfinals against either Akron or Miami.
Buffalo snapped a streak of starting the same five for 25 straight games on Friday night as head coach Nate Oats started his five-man senior class, who combined for 65 of the team's 84 points. The Bulls opened the game on fire, scoring the first eight points and getting an early three from Massinburg to extend the game-opening run to 11-2.
The Bulls extended the advantage to 14 just six minutes in as senior Nick Perkins drilled a three to put UB ahead 21-7. Buffalo led by as many 19 points in the first half as senior Dontay Caruthers got a steal and turned it into a fast break dunk putting Buffalo ahead 40-21 with 5:22 left. The Bulls continued to lead by 18 with 2:55 left, but Bowling Green scored the final five points of the half as UB took a 43-30 lead into the break.
Buffalo continued to lead by 14 in the second half when Bowling Green went on 15-2 run to pull within one point with 12:06 left. The Bulls answered quickly though as Perkins scored five straight points, including an old fashioned three-point play to put Buffalo back up by six at 60-54 with 11:08 left.
Bowling Green again cut it back to three with 9:28 left, but the Bulls answered with a 9-0 run to take a 71-59 lead with 7:18 left and Bowling Green never got any closer than nine. A triple from Massinburg extended the lead to 14 and ultimately UB took its lead back up to 15 before BG scored the final four points for the final margin of victory.
"The crowd was great, the start was great and I'm just really proud of these guys here," said Oats. "It was an emotional night and obviously our guys didn't shoot it as well as they would have liked and sometimes emotions can get in the way of that. Bowling Green cut it to a possession there in the second half, but our guys had enough grit to get some stops on defense and come away with a win."
Perkins led all scorers with 22 points as he went over 1,700 for his Buffalo career. Perkins added six rebounds and a steal.
Massinburg finished with 15 points as he moved past Young for second on the all-time scoring list, now with 1,910 points for his career. He added six boards, two assists, and a pair of steals.
Fellow senior Jeremy Harris had 14 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a career high five steals. Caruthers added seven points and six rebounds, while tying his career high with eight assists, and adding four steals. Montell McRae finished with seven points and four rebounds on his senior night.
Junior Davonta Jordan came off the bench for the first time this season and finished with 10 points and four rebounds, while sophomore Jayvon Graves added five points, three rebounds, and three assists.
For the second time this season, Buffalo held a rebounding edge over the Falcons, who entered the night as one of the nation's top rebounding teams. The Bulls also did an excellent job of taking caring of the ball with 20 assists and just eight turnovers, compared to 17 turnovers for the Falcons.
The 6,709 in attendance was a new record for the building under its current seating configuration. The 28 wins tie the 2007-08 Kent State team for the third most in MAC history, while Buffalo becomes only the fifth team in MAC history with 16 or more conference wins.
Buffalo will now be off until the MAC Tournament quarterfinals, which will begin next Thursday at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. UB is the #1 seed for the second straight season and will play in the first quarterfinal game at 12:00 pm. Buffalo will face the winner of #8 Akron and #9 Miami, which will be played on Monday night.