Buffalo stays strong in second half against Akron
Bulls beat Bobcats with decisive 108-82 win
Buffalo’s most dangerous shooter this season is whoever has the ball and Saturday was no different.
Six Bulls scored in double-digits as Buffalo took down the Ohio Bobcats 108-82 Saturday afternoon in Alumni Arena. Junior forward Nick Perkins finished with a game-high 21 points and added four boards. Two Bulls added double-doubles in the game with Senior guard Wes Clark putting up 12 points and a career-high 11 assists while junior guard Jeremy Harris finished with 12 points and 10 boards. The team finished with 27 assists on 39 field goals.
“We didn’t start the game great tonight for whatever reason, so it was tight there for the first eight minutes until we started opening up. Obviously we opened a pretty good lead by the half,” said head coach Nate Oats. “I think our guys are really unselfish. … I was happy with the way the ball moved tonight.”
The Bulls (21-8,13-3 Mid-American Conference) were the dominant team against the Bobcats (12-16, 5-11 MAC) and had their highest scoring total of the season. It was also the most points UB scored in a MAC game in program history. The other three Bulls to score in double figures were junior guard Dontay Caruthers with 19, junior guard CJ Massinburg with 15, and sophomore guard Davonta Jordan with 11.
Ohio was able to grab hold of the game first when junior guard Jordan Dartis converted the Bobcats’ first shot attempt of the game from three. They held onto the lead for the next 12 minutes and made 6-of-10 shots from behind the line. Buffalo couldn’t find its shot and went 1-of-5 in that same span.
Buffalo found a rhythm with 10 minutes left in the first half and secured its first lead with 8:10 remaining before the break. It was the only lead change in the game. They closed out the half 5-of-11 from deep.
The second half has been a menace for Buffalo since the spring semester started. The Bulls came into the game outscored in the second half in their last nine games. Saturday was a completely different story when the Bulls entered the second half with a 14-point lead and won the second half by 12.
“The offense isn't really what I’m worried about. It’s the defense and the defense was so-so in the first half; giving up 42 to a team that has struggled to score,” Oats said. “We’ve had awful starts to the second half. We tried to switch it up a little bit –– bring Perkins in.”
Members of the team said they made sure to focus and avoid letting go of another lead.
“We talked about how we had been there before. I think we had an 18-point lead at Kent State and we lost,” Perkins said. “So we’ve had big leads and given them away. CJ said ‘we can’t do this again, I’m tired of going up 20 and losing.’ So we definitely talked about it and we couldn’t let it happen again.”
One of the biggest contributors to the Bulls’ success on Saturday was the play they got from their bench. The bench combined for 56 points, 15 boards and 6 assists. In total, all 14 players on the Bulls’ roster saw action.
Oats said figuring out a way to get everybody minutes will be big come tournament time, when the team will play three days in a row if they hope to win a MAC title.
“It’s gonna be hard to win in the conference tournament if our main four guys are playing 34 or 35-plus minutes,” Oats said. “It’s gonna be really hard to win on Saturday doing that so we’ve gotta get our bench playing better.”
Buffalo finishes its home schedule Tuesday when they host the Akron Zips (12-16, 5-11 MAC). Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Daniel Petruccelli is the sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org