Buffalo beats Kent State 84-72
Bulls get revenge against Golden Flashes at home
The men’s basketball team went into Tuesday night’s home game looking to come back from its loss to Northern Illinois after slipping on defense in the final minutes. The team lost double digit leads in the final minutes of its last four games heading in. This performance may not mark the end to the Bulls’ finishing issues, but it was enough get the win.
Junior guard Jeremy Harris led the team in scoring with 24 points and 6 rebounds. Senior guard Wes Clark also had a big game with 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
“I thought our defensive intensity was much better,” said head coach Nate Oats in a post-game press conference Tuesday. “We weren’t happy after the Northern Illinois game. We needed a chance to get our head straight. We had a good practice yesterday and I think it translated into our performance tonight.”
With this win, the Bulls (19-7, 11-2 Mid-American Conference) hold their top seed in the MAC after going 3-2 in their last five games. The Toledo Rockets (19-7, 11-2 MAC) sit next to Buffalo in the MAC, but the Bulls have a win over the Rockets from earlier in the season. The Bulls have five conference games left.
Both teams spent the first 10 minutes controlling the other on offense. Neither team was able to find the basket consistently, with both teams turning the ball over. The scoring picked up when Harris made back-to-back baskets with ten minutes left in the half.
The Bulls played strong defense mixed with streaks on offense to take a 45-27 lead at the half.
Perkins had a strong half with 12 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 5-6. Junior Guard CJ Massinburg was a force in the half despite shooting 2-5 with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in the half. The Bulls shot 20 percent better than the Golden Flashes in the half while going 5-12 from beyond the arc.
The Bulls kept their lead at the start of the second half thanks to strong offense from Harris, who scored 9 points in the first five minutes. Despite the Golden Flashes occasionally trimming the Bulls’ lead, Buffalo slowed their momentum and kept it in double digits the entire half.
Perkins was unable to keep scoring, with only 3 points in the second half. Harris continued his strong shooting going 6-9 in the half. The Bulls closed out the game with big shots coming in from multiple players that stopped Kent State from cutting the lead.
“I made the shots that I missed in the first half,” Harris said. “My teammates did a good job of setting me up and I made a couple of plays.”
Kent State junior guard Jaylen Avery had a strong opening the second half with four three-pointers in the opening four minutes. He finished the game with 16 points. Buffalo was more consistent at the basket.
“We as a team have been trying to focus up more and be more selective taking shots and not being too fast when shooting,” Clark said.
The Bulls play the Bowling Green Falcons (16-10, 7-6 MAC) next on Friday at Alumni Arena. The team will try to grow past their late game breakdowns.
“They definitely still needed to be refocused sometimes out there during the game,” Oats said. “Today I called a timeout with six minutes left and thought they came out looking much better. If that’s what I have to do each game to keep that up then I will.”
Tip off for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.