BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo men's basketball team came away with a season-opening exhibition victory on Friday night, defeating Daemen 87-82 in overtime. The Bulls overcame a six-point second half deficit, getting a game-high 27 points from sophomore CJ Massinburg.
After watching the 2016 MAC Championship banner get unveiled before opening tip, the Bulls rode the momentum early, opening the night on a 10-3 run, including eight early points from Massinburg. A three pointer by sophomore Nick Perkins increased the Buffalo lead to 18-9 with 11:14 left, but that would be UB's largest lead of the night. Buffalo remained ahead 29-22 when Daemen ended the first half on an 8-2 run as the Bulls went into the break, up 31-30.
The Bulls led 41-36 with 16:00 left in the second half when the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run over the next three and a half minutes, taking their largest lead of the game at 47-41 with 12:27 left. Buffalo answered right back going on an 8-2 run of its own as a jumper by sophomore Nikola Rackicevic tied the game up at 49-49 with 10:57 left.
Daemen went back up by six with just 5:44 left as a pair of free throws from Jeff Redband gave the Wildcats a 61-55 lead. Daemen led by four with 2:46 left when Massinburg rattled off four straight points to tie it up at 67-67 with 2:08 remaining. The Wildcats regained a 69-67 lead before the Bulls went on a quick 5-0 spurt as a layup by Willie Conner put Buffalo ahead 72-69, but Redband drilled a three with 26 seconds left for Daemen, sending the game into overtime.
Conner opened the extra period with a layup, but Daemen took a 76-74 lead before Perkins hit a free throw and Conner drained a three pointer to put the Bulls up 78-76 with 2:42 left. Daemen tied it back up at 78-78, but Perkins took over, scoring the next seven Buffalo points. With the Bulls leading by just a single point, Perkins clinched the win by taking a pass from freshman Davonta Jordan and slamming it home with 17 seconds, getting fouled in the process. A fast-break dunk by Massinburg gave the Bulls the 87-81 advantage and Daemen got no closer than 87-82.
"Our guys didn't come ready to play tonight and we head an average week of practice and that showed up on the court," said head coach Nate Oats. "You have to give Daemen a lot of credit because that is really well coached team and with the style they play, shooting those threes, they can pull some upsets out. We do have enough guys though that really wanted to win this game and when they needed to, they locked down on defense. The problem is we can't wait until 34 minutes in to start doing that, but to give our guys credit they did figure it out and got the win."
After scoring 25 against Daemen in his first game last season, Massinburg scored 27 points, while adding seven rebounds and five assists tonight. Perkins finished with 25 points, including a 10-for-12 performance from the free throw line. He added eight rebounds and a steal.
Conner finished with 24 points as him, Massinburg and Perkins combined for 76 of the team's 87 points. Rackicevic added seven points, while David Kadiri and Dontay Caruthers each added two points. Caruthers also finished with six rebounds and three assists.
Freshman Quate McKinzie did not score in his first appearance, but tied Perkins with a team-high eight rebounds. As a team, the Bulls outrebounded Daemen, 50-36.
The Bulls will now have another week of practice before opening the regular season next Friday night at Niagara. Tipoff is set for 8:00 pm.