AKRON, OH – For the second straight game the University at Buffalo men's basketball team fell victim to a late free throw as Akron's Isaiah Johnson broke a 90-90 tie with 2.3 seconds left, going 1-of-2 from the free throw line to give Akron a 91-90 win over the Bulls. The victory was Akron's 11th straight and 28th in a row at home. The loss spoiled a huge showing from senior Blake Hamilton, who finished with a game-high 33 points.
The Bulls shot 53.2% from the floor, their highest total this season against a D-I opponent, but the Zips got the better of UB at the free throw line as Buffalo went 14-of-23 from the charity stripe, while the Zips got to the line 40 times, making 26 of them.
Buffalo got out to a quick start on Saturday evening as a three-pointer from Nick Perkins gave the Bulls a 22-14 edge just eight minutes into the game. However, Akron answered by going on a 19-2 run as the Zips went ahead 36-27 on a three pointer from Kwan Cheatham Jr. with 6:33 remaining. UB continued to trail by eight before a quick 6-1 run put the Bulls into the break down just three, 43-40.
Another three from Perkins early in the second half put the Bulls up 48-47 and the game remained tight as a fast-break dunk from CJ Massinburg tied it at 67-67 with 9:03 left. Cheatham answered though with three straight long-range three pointers as he put the Zips back up by nine, with 7:00 minutes to go.
The Zips continued to lead by eight with 5:22 left when a Willie Conner three pointer ignited a quick 7-0 run for the Bulls, pulling them within one. The Zips would increase their lead to five with 2:30 remaining, but Hamilton hit one of his clutch three pointers pulling UB back within a single possession. Trailing 90-87 with 30 seconds left, Hamilton hit another three to tie the game up, but on the final Akron possession, Johnson was fouled with 2.3 seconds left. He missed the first free throw before rattling in the second one and UB's last-ditch attempt was off the mark giving the Zips the 91-90 win.
Hamilton finished with 33 points, the second 30-point game for him this season. He went 13-of-16 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from three-point range. He added six rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Conner had 19 points, while Massinburg and Perkins each finished with 14. Perkins added eight rebounds off the bench before fouling out. The quartet of Conner, Perkins, Massinburg, and Hamilton combined for 80 of their 90 points.
Akron improved to 18-3 on the season and 8-0 in conference play. Cheatham led the Zips with 31 points, while Johnson had 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Buffalo will return to Alumni Arena on Tuesday night as they welcome the Central Michigan Chippewas to Alumni Arena. Central Michigan has the nation's leading scorer in Marcus Keene. Tipoff is set for 7:00 pm.