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Skeete fuels second-half run as Bulls defeat Drexel

Buffalo uses late run to pull away in 80-70 victory

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The Buffalo men’s basketball team led Drexel by four points with about 11 minutes remaining in its game Tuesday night. Buffalo then scored the game’s next eight points in a span of two minutes to build a 12-point lead. All eight points came from junior guard Jarryn Skeete, and the Bulls (6-2) did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the night.

“I was ready to shoot and my teammates were finding me,” Skeete said. “After the hard work we put in, it paid off.”

The Bulls used a second-half run to defeat Drexel (2-7) at Alumni Arena Tuesday night in front of an announced crowd of 2,402. After the Dragons cut Buffalo’s lead to 49-47, the Bulls went on a 21-9 run to seal the victory and take their largest lead of the night at 14 points with three minutes remaining. Buffalo led by at least eight for the remainder of the game.

Skeete fueled the second half run. With the Bulls nursing a 53-49 lead, Skeete scored a basket on three straight possessions – a two-point bucket and back-to-back three-pointers, respectively – to give the Bulls a 61-49 lead. It was their largest lead of the game at that time. Skeete finished the night with 14 points.

“Jarryn can shoot the ball so well he brings his own dimension to the team,” said head coach Bobby Hurley.

The Bulls were efficient offensively – shooting 46 percent from the field with 19 assists and only 10 turnovers. Backcourt duo Shannon Evans and Lamonte Bearden each had eight assists and only three turnovers.

“Both of those guys are playmakers and to have 16 assists between them is a great statistic,” Hurley said. “They’re both unselfish and they’re both sharing the basketball.”

Bearden scored all 11 of his points in the second half after a 0-for-3 shooting performance in the first.

Evans has scored at least 14 points in five games this season, but the sophomore guard scored only seven points Tuesday. Hurley said Evans has “already proven this year he can score 20-plus in a game,” so teams are focusing on him, but said Evans is finding his teammate and “taking what the defense is giving him.”

Hurley was concerned coming into the game because Buffalo had not played in nine days and did not practice much during the week due to final exams. Hurley said the long week off benefited Xavier Ford. The senior forward missed Buffalo’s previous two games with a concussion and was cleared early in the week.

Ford had a season-high 12 points – 10 of which came in the first half – and five rebounds. Ford knocked away a Drexel pass near half court and slammed dunked the ball on the fast break to electrify the crowd and give the Bulls a 16-6 lead early on.

“Xavier Ford was great, especially in the first half. He made some great energy plays,” Hurley said. “It’s great to have him back in the lineup.”

The Bulls went on a 10-0 run in the first five minutes of the game and eventually held a 20-10 lead. Drexel would go on its own run, however, cutting Buffalo’s lead to just one point at 30-29. That would be as close as the Dragons would get for the rest of the game.

Buffalo ended the first half on an 8-3 run to take a 38-32 advantage into halftime.

The Bulls held the advantage in points off turnovers (18 to 11) and second chance points (22-10). The Buffalo defense held the Dragons to just 23.5 percent from three-point range.

Hurley said the Bulls did a good job defending Drexel guard Damion Lee. Lee finished with a game-high 24 points, but had just six points in the first half and finished the game just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Junior forward Justin moss had a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Rodell Wigginton had 12 points and six rebounds, while senior forward Will Regan added eight points.

The Bulls host Niagara (1-6, 1-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) at Alumni Arena Friday at 7 p.m.

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