CLEVELAND, OH – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team held off a game Central Michigan squad, 85-81, in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night. The Bulls will play for their second straight MAC title and fourth in five years tomorrow night.
The Chippewas took their first lead at 21-18 midway through the first half and built their lead to as many as eight before a Montell McCrea tip-in finally gave the Bulls a 69-68 lead with 8:11 left in the game. From there, the teams traded baskets until a CJ Massinburg free throw gave the Bulls the lead for good, 77-76, with 2:23 left.
In the closing minutes, Massinburg showed why he was voted the MAC Player of the Year. The senior guard scored the Bulls final nine points over the last two minutes of the game, including clutch free throw after clutch free throw, to keep the UB lead at three. With Buffalo leading by two and six seconds left, Massinburg sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
Rebounding was key to the Bulls taking over in the second half. Buffalo outrebounded Central Michigan, 47-30. The Bulls grabbed 18 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points. Fourteen of the Bulls' second-chance points came in the second half.
Massinburg had a game-high 21 points and added nine rebounds. Nick Perkins also grabbed nine rebounds to go along with 14 points. Davonta Jordan, who didn't see much action in the quarterfinals due to foul trouble, made up for lost time, finishing with 16 points and adding seven rebounds. Jeremy Harris and Dontay Caruthers also scored in double-figures with 12 and 11, respectively.
With the win, the Bulls improved to 30-3 on the season, tying the Mid-American Conference record for wins in a season.
The Bulls will play the winner of the Bowling Green/Northern Illinois game in tomorrow's championship game. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 pm and will air on ESPN2.