BUFFALO, NY – Freshman Nick Perkins hammered home a dunk with four seconds remaining in overtime, leading the Bulls to a 98-96 win over Canisius on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena. The Bulls, who forced overtime on a late three pointer by Jarryn Skeete, have won three in a row and improved to 4-2 on the season.
The Bulls opened the game by scoring the first seven points of the contest, but a 12-3 run gave Canisius an early edge. Canisius led by as many as three with six minutes left in the opening half, but a 7-0 run from the Bulls put UB back up, 31-27. The run was capped off on a steal by junior Willie Conner and a fast-break layup by freshman CJ Massinburg. The Griffs tied it back up at 31-31, but the Bulls ended the half on an 11-2 run over the final 2:40 including a three-pointer by Blake Hamilton with just under nine seconds left, which gave the Bulls the 42-33 halftime lead.
UB opened up an 11-point lead in the second half, its largest of the game, before Canisius came back and tied the contest up at 55-55. A three pointer by Malcolm McMillan gave Canisius a 62-58 lead with 9:27 left, but a steal by Hamilton and a fast-break dunk from sophomore Lamonte Bearden capped off a 16-7 run, putting the Bulls back up 74-69 with 4:53 left.
The Bulls led by six with just over two minutes left when it began to get interesting. Jamal Reynolds hit a layup for Canisius and was fouled, but an inadvertent whistle on the missed free throw gave the ball back to Canisius as the officials determined they had possession, who scored another basket to pull within 84-82. Canisius continued what would become a 9-0 run and took an 87-84 lead with 20 seconds left, but UB got a huge shot from its senior when it needed it. Skeete came off a screen and Bearden found him in the corner for a huge three pointer, which tied the game up with eight seconds left. A missed basket by Canisius put the game into overtime.
A three pointer by Kassius Robertson gave Canisius a 94-91 lead with 2:23 left and the Griffs continued to lead by three with 1:49 remaining in the extra period. Hamilton then answered with a layup and later a free throw, tying the game at 96-96 with 48 seconds left. On the following Canisius possession, the officials used instant replay to reverse an out of bounds call judging the ball was last touched by Canisius, giving UB a possession with just 33 seconds left. The Bulls milked down the clock for as long as they could before Bearden found a wide open Perkins near the hoop and threw down the dunk, which turned out to be the game winner. The Griffs did have one last chance, but a three pointer fell short and the Bulls claimed the win.
"I thought that game was exciting for the fans today," said head coach Nate Oats. "Obviously we would have liked to take an 11-point lead and stretch it out, but sometimes it doesn't happen like that. We didn't play great those last five minutes of regulation, but we are young and sometimes you have to learn how to win. You are going to make mistakes, but it is how you recover from them and Skeete's shot was the biggest one of the night and as a senior you are confident he will make those plays."
The Bulls placed six players in double figures in scoring led by 18 points from Bearden, who also had five assists and four steals. Perkins and Massinburg each added 15 points off the bench, while Hamilton and Conner each finished with 14 points.
Skeete added 12 points, while fellow senior Rodell Wigginton added six points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The UB bench continued to be extremely productive as it outscored Canisius, 48-21. The Bulls also held the advantage in points in the paint at 54-38. UB finished with 10 turnovers, while they forced Canisius into 19 turnovers, including 12 steals.
The Bulls will remain home on Wednesday night for another Big 4 matchup as UB hosts St. Bonaventure at Alumni Arena. Tipoff is at 7:00 pm.