BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo men's basketball team ended 2016 and its non-conference schedule on a high note Friday night as the Bulls defeated Maine 79-60 in Alumni Arena. The Bulls had 11 different players find the scoring column, including four in double figures. With the victory, UB closes out non-conference with a 6-7 record.
Maine opened the night on an early 7-2 run, but the five-point advantage would be the biggest for the Black Bears as the Bulls controlled for nearly the entire remaining 35 minutes. Buffalo answered that early run by scoring 13 straight points as a steal from freshman Davonta Jordan and a fast-break dunk by sophomore Nick Perkins capped it off, giving the Bulls a 15-7 lead.
Maine pulled back within two at 24-22 when the Bulls answered with a 10-0 run, which started on a pair of three pointers from senior Willie Conner. UB went on to take a double-digit lead into the break, 37-27.
The Black Bears went on a 12-3 run to open up the second half, pulling back within a single point with 17:09 left, but then head coach Nate Oats made some wholesale substitutions and the fresh bodies seemed to give the Bulls a spark. UB went on an 18-3 run over the next six minutes as four of the five players all contributed with points, including four from sophomore Nikola Rackicevic.
Buffalo took its largest lead of the game with 5:09 left on a fast-break dunk by Ikenna Smart, which gave the Bulls a 72-50 lead. UB would take a 22-point lead on two more occasions, including a late fast-break layup by junior Christian Pino.
The Bulls had four players in double figures led by 15 points and nine rebounds from senior Blake Hamilton, who added three assists. Sophomore CJ Massinburg added 14 points and four rebounds off the bench, while Perkins had 11 points and Conner finished with 10 points and two blocked shots.
Freshman Quate McKinzie had nine points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench, while sophomore Dontay Caruthers added four points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Caruthers also took four charges on the defensive end in 21 minutes.
Smart had five point and four rebounds, while Rakicevic added four points and a pair of assists. Pino, Jordan, and David Kadiri each had two points.
Defensively, the Bulls held Maine to just 33.3% shooting, including just 29% from three-point range. The Black Bears also struggled from the free throw line, where they were just 5-of-14.
The Bulls will open up 2017 on Tuesday night when they begin their MAC title defense on the road at Toledo. The game is set for 6pm and it will air nationally on the American Sports Network.