BOWLING GREEN, OH – The Buffalo Bulls overcame a four-point deficit with just 1:30 remaining on Friday night as the Bulls defeated Bowling Green 87-83 to claim the #3 seed and a first round bye in the upcoming MAC Tournament. UB ended the game on a 10-2 run as the Bulls finished the regular season 17-14 and 10-8 in MAC play.
The Bulls opened the game on a 7-0 run and led throughout the first half as freshman Nick Perkins knocked down a triple with 2:02 left to give Buffalo its largest lead of the game at 41-31. Bowling Green scored the final six points of the half as UB took a 41-37 lead into the break.
The host Falcons opened . .
Bowling Green continued to lead late into the game as the Falcons were up 81-77 with 2:17 remaining, but the Bulls answered with the play that may have saved their season just 30 seconds later. Freshman CJ Massinburg grabbed an offensive rebound and passed it off to junior Blake Hamilton who drove the baseline and put up an off-balanced jumper, which he hit while being fouled.
The three-point play pulled the Bulls back within one and a missed shot by BG led to an easy layup by Lamonte Bearden to put the Bulls ahead.
Bowling Green's Spencer Parker answered with a jumper with 48 seconds left, which put BG back ahead 84-83, but those would be BG's last points of the game. Bearden was fouled on the next UB possession and knocked down a pair. The Bulls then forced a BG turnover as Willie Conner recorded a steal and went 1-for-2 from the line to put UB up two. The Bulls then got a little gift as Bowling Green's Ismail Ali slipped during the inbounds and lost the ball out of bounds. Hamilton was fouled and knocked down a pair to cement the win for the Bulls.
"It was unbelievable the way our guys stepped up down the stretch and made plays like that three-point play from Blake," said head coach Nate Oats. "We had to get some tough rebounds late and we had to make some stops late because we messed some things up there earlier in the game."
The Bulls had a pair of 20-point scorers in the game as Hamilton finished with 20 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Bearden also finished with 20 points as he added five rebounds, four assists and three steals. In all, five players scored in double figures for the Bulls.
Conner finished with 15 points, while Massinburg added 12. Perkins finished with 11 points and five boards off the bench, including going 3-of-5 from long distance. Senior Rodell Wigginton added six points off the bench and a pair of boards.
The Bulls shot 50% from the floor and 10-of-25 from three-point range. Bowling Green also shot over 50% in the game, but shot just 28.6% from behind the arc.
With the win, the Bulls have received a first round bye in the MAC Tournament for the third straight season. The Bulls will be the #3 seed in the upcoming tournament and will play on Thursday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. UB will face the winner of the first round matchup between #6 Ball State and #11 Miami (OH). UB will play the final game of the evening, which will begin at approximately 9:00 pm.
No. 12 Bowling Green will be at No. 5 Kent State Monday.