UB men's and women’s basketball claim victories in final non-conference matchups

Men score 99 points, women debut Oursler

Buffalo basketball is peaking at the right time of the season – days away from the beginning of Mid-American Conference play.

Both the men's and women’s teams ended the non-conference schedule with convincing victories Tuesday night. The men’s squad (7-6) defeated Delaware (5-6) 99-79 in Alumni Arena while the women (8-3) defeated Sacred Heart (2-9) 66-53 in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The women’s team enters conference play with a two-game winning streak while the men enter as winners of three of its last four games.

Men’s recap

The Bulls, coming off a season-best 51 percent shooting performance against Virginia Commonwealth, finished with a 50-percent shooting performance and one point shy of the century mark against Delaware Tuesday. It was their second highest scoring performance of the season.

Junior guard Willie Conner and senior guard Jarryn Skeete combined for 43 points, seven three-pointers and just three turnovers in perhaps both of their best performances of the season. Freshman forward Nikola Rakicevic had the best performance of his young career, with 14 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

Freshman guard CJ Massinburg added 13 points and five assists.

With the game knotted at 11 apiece with a little more than 12 minutes to go in the first half, Buffalo erupted for a 34-19 run to end the half with consistent three-point shooting and open drives to the rim.

Junior forward David Kadiri played only 14 minutes, mostly in the first half, but it was his relentless defense that helped Buffalo in its early run to take the lead. He accumulated five offensive rebounds – all in the first half – and added six points coming off the bench.

Buffalo played without junior wing Blake Hamilton, who was held out of the matchup due to a concussion sustained last week in practice.

The junior is one of Buffalo’s best guard/forward options, but Tuesday proved that Buffalo’s depth is beginning to pay dividends heading into MAC play. Head coach Nate Oats had nine players play significant minutes, even without Hamilton.

Buffalo begins its MAC title defense next Tuesday at home against Akron (9-2). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Women’s recap

The women appear to be back on the right track at the right time – and it has its leading player to thank for that.

Junior guard Joanna Smith, fresh off a MAC Player of the Week award, continued her dominance with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting in the 66-53 over Sacred Heart. She also nailed five three-pointers in one of her best games of the season.

Smith has led the offensive surge for Buffalo thus far, but the Bulls witnessed the debut of a missing defensive presence Tuesday night.

Cassie Oursler.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore played in her first game in a Buffalo uniform on Tuesday after sitting out due to NCAA transfer ruling and issues with her former team. But the wait was worth it for Buffalo.

Oursler finished with a double-double and four blocks in 20 minutes played off the bench. Her 12 points were second to Smith and her 10 rebounds were a game-high. Oursler has the playmaking ability to create shots to outside shooters, or match up to any opposition at the rim for easy buckets. She finished 6-of-10 shooting – with all of her points coming in the paint.

The Bulls scored 40 of their 66 points and led by 18 in the first half – enough to secure its eighth win heading into conference play.

The women begin conference play on Saturday on the road against Eastern Michigan (8-2) for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.