Starting off on the right foot: UB men's basketball beats Canisius 80-75
UB basketball almost had its season opener spoiled Saturday night. In a real nail-biter, the Bulls were down for nine of the final 10 minutes.
But reigning MAC sixth man of the year, Nick Perkins saved the day when he scored with just 54 seconds left in the game to give the Bulls a one point lead. Davonta Jordan solidified the lead on the next play when he stole the ball and went coast to coast. He put in a layup to give the Bulls a three point lead with just 34 seconds remaining.
They held the lead the rest of the way and Buffalo (1-0) came away with the 80-75 win over the Canisius Golden Griffins (0-1) in a game that featured 14 lead changes. Perkins, a junior forward, led the Bulls in scoring and finished with a career high 26 points and added six boards and a block. Jordan, a sophomore guard, also put up a career high of 16 points and led the team in rebounds with eight.
“You have to learn how to win close games as a team, you really do, and there’s nothing like being in a game that matters down the stretch,” said Bulls head coach Nate Oats. “It’s good our guys know even though you didn’t play great you can win a tight game down the stretch… keep fighting and then figure it out at the end and they did a good job figuring it out at the end today.”
Buffalo struggled shooting the ball all night and finished 7-of-24 from three point range. They especially struggled in the second half and went 13-of-38 from the floor.
Junior guard Jeremy Harris couldn’t find his rhythm in his first game for the Bulls. He went 5-of-17 in the game for 15 points. But he came through late and converted 3-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to put the game out of reach for the Griffins.
Junior guard CJ Massinburg fouled out with 1:14 remaining in the game. He was also off all game and shot 3-of-11 for the night.
“Jeremy is a way better shooter than he showed. CJ is a way better shooter than he showed,” Oats said. “Those guys are going to hit shots. Caruthers worked on his jumper. We’re just gonna keep working at it and take open shot.”
Perkins had the best night from deep for the Bulls and converted 3-of-4 from three-point range. He was also effective inside. The Bulls scored more than half their points in the paint with 44.
“We had a whole week to prepare and I was talking about being open inside,” Perkins said. “They got [Crumpton] but other than that the other guys are real scrawny so that was one of our main keys to winning the game was getting the ball inside.”
Oats said Perkins defense was the best part of his game. He was tasked with defending the Griffins' leading scorer from last season, senior forward Jermaine Crumpton. Crumpton had 31 points last season against the Bulls but Perkins held him to nine Saturday afternoon.
Jordan was the most efficient shooter in the game and went 7-of-8 and 2-of-2 from deep. Jordan said fixing his shooting was important but he really focused on his defense.
“Last year I didn't play a lot because of my defense,” Jordan said. “This year I just thought I could stay in the game if I could play defense so I just locked in on defense and made it happen.”
The Bulls will be back in action Wednesday when they host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (1-0). Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Daniel Petruccelli is the sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com