CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Buffalo Bulls defeated Kent State 78-61 Friday at Quicken Loans Arena, propelling the regular season MAC Champs into Saturday's Mid-American Conference Tournament final.
Buffalo (25-8, 15-3) opened as much as an 11-point lead in the first half and had a 10-point advantage at halftime, 39-29.
When action resumed, UB expanded its lead, going up by 18 at 14:03 following a free throw by Nick Perkins. Kent State then managed to make an 8-0 run to make it a 56-46 with 11:30 remaining.
That turned out to be as close as KSU would get. Buffalo pushed the lead back out to 13 with six minutes remaining and was never headed, advancing to the championship game for the third time in the last four seasons.
Junior Jeremy Harris led all scorers in the game with 22 points, while Perkins, the MAC Sixth Man of the Year, added 12. They were two of four Buffalo players in double figures. CJ Massingburg made 5 of 10 shots from the field and 4 of 6 free throws on the way to 14 points. Dontay Caruthers came off the bench to add 11 points, connecting on 5 of 8 from the floor.
The Flashes were led by junior Jalen Avery, who totaled 16 points, while sophomore Danny Pippin posted a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Junior Jaylin Walker (12) and senior Kevin Zabo (14) , playing his final game for KSU, added. combined for 26 points
Kent State (16-17) came into the tournament as the 12th seed and notched wins over Northern Illinois and Ball State before falling to UB. That loss ended the Flashs' five game MAC Tournament winning streak, stretching back to the 2017 tournament.
Buffalo, winner of five straight and seven of its last eight outings, will face MAC West champ Toledo in Saturday's final. The Rockets edged Eastern Michigan 64-63 in Friday's early game.