KINGSTON, RI – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in the country on Saturday afternoon as the Bulls lost to Rhode Island, 80-72, in overtime in a charity exhibition for both teams with net proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund. The Rams were selected as the preseason winners of the Atlantic 10 and are receiving votes in the Top 25. Last season they reached the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls had a distinct shooting advantage from the field as UB shot 47.2% from the floor and 40.9% from three-point range, but were undone by 28 turnovers and a 13-of-31 performance from the free throw line. However, despite that, UB never trailed by more than eight due to some solid defense and a gritty effort by all that played.
The Rams got out to an early 14-7 lead in the contest, but the Bulls answered with seven straight points of their own to tie it up. Rhode Island would go on to lead by seven again at 29-22, but the Bulls closed out the first half on a 6-1 run as a fast-break layup from junior college transfer Jeremy Harris pulled UB within 30-28 at the break.
Rhode Island tried to break the game open early in the second half as it took a 37-29 lead just two minutes in, but the Bulls answered right back as eight straight points from Harris tied the game back up, including a pair of fast-break dunks. The Rams would again go up by eight with 11:28 remaining, but three pointers from Harris, James Reese, and James Jones sparked a 9-2 run.
The Bulls would go on to take a lead in the second half on a layup from Harris with 6:24 remaining, but Rhode Island went on to regain the lead with 28 seconds left, 68-65. The Bulls missed a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession, but Montell McRae tracked down the offensive rebound and the ball wound up in the hands of Reese, who knocked in a three pointer to tie the game up. A last chance three from Rhode Island was short and the game moved into overtime.
Buffalo was outscored 12-4 in the overtime period as Nick Perkins scored the first two points of the period to give the Bulls the lead, but then Jared Terrell hit back-to-back threes to give URI the lead for good. A layup from Reese cut the Rhode Island lead to three with 2:12 left, but those were Buffalo's last points of the game.
"I thought we played really hard against a very good opponent today, but we turned it over to much and struggled from the line," said head coach Nate Oats. "Despite that, our guys played with great effort and this is definitely a step in the right direction as we prepare for our season-opener two weeks from today."
Harris led the Bulls with 21 points and 10 rebounds as he went 8-of-17 from the floor, while adding three assists and three steals. Junior Nick Perkins finished with 15 points, two blocks, and four steals.
Reese had 12 points off the bench, going 5-of-6 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc. McRae added 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, while also recording three blocks and a steal.
Jones had five points, while freshman Jayvon Graves added three points, two rebounds, and two steals.
The Bulls will have one more exhibition opportunity on Friday night when they host Daemen College at Alumni Arena. It will be part of a doubleheader with the UB women as they face Bloomsburg at 5:30 and the men will play at 8:00 pm.