CLEVELAND, Oh -- Senior Jeremy Harris poured in 31 points to lead all scorers as the No. 18 Buffalo Bulls pulled away from Bowling Green for an 87-73 victory in the Mid-American Conference championship game Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
With the win, Buffalo (31-3) extended its . . .
“Everyone was huge for us tonight.” UB Head coach Nate Oats said. “I was really happy the way our guys performed.”
Harris reached his game-high 31 points by going 13-of-20 from field. He added five rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot in garnering his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award.
Joining Harris in double figures were were senior CJ Massinburg (17 and 10 rebounds), sophomore Jayvon Graves (17) aand Davonta Jordan (11).
A key stretch in the contest came with 4:26 remaining in the second half. The Bulls were leading 74-71 and senior Nick Perkins had just fouled out. Buffalo’s Jayvon Graves responded with a three and the Bulls reeled off 12 unanswered points. Bowling Green, in fact, scored just one more basket -- a Demajeo Wiggins dunk with 48 seconds left. By then, the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Bowling Green (22-12) was making its first appearance in the championship game since 2002. The Falcons last reached an NCAA berth in 1968.
“It was a tough, hard fought game, but Buffalo was the better team tonight.” BGSU head coach Michael Huger said, adding “and we will be back.”
Sophomore Justin Turner led the Falcons with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists. Fellow sophomore Daequon Plowden also had 17, along with eight rebounds. Senior Demajeo Wiggins registered 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Michael Laster came off the bench to score 13 with five boards.
The third meeting between the two teams and first in MAC Tournament play was all Buffalo at the start. The Bulls owned a 26-13 lead at the 9:05 mark thanks to Harris, who scored 14 points in the first 20 minutes.
BGSU, however, managed to get back into the game by outscoring Buffalo 25-13 before breaking for intermission That left the Bulls in front by a single point at 38-37.
The Falcons moved in front, 42-41, early in the second stanza after Turner connected on a trey from the right arc.
It was nip-and-tuck thereafter, with the second 20 minutes producing five ties and 11 lead changes.
UB took the lead for good with 6;16 remaining on two free throws from Massinburg and pulled away with its decisive run over the final 4:10.
UB finishing shooting 46.8 percent from the field (29-of-62). The Bulls hit 53.8 percent from the floor in the second half. Overall, they made 13 shots from beyond the three-point arc and committed only nine turnovers
The Falcons ended the game at 39.4 percent from the floor (28-of-71) were only 7-for-26 from three. They decisively won the battle of the boards 48-34, with 18 coming on the offensive glass, turning extra opportunities into 12 second chance points.
“We have been taking everybody’s best shots all season long. We persevered and came out on top. It is hard to win 31 games.” Oats said
Buffalo now awaits Selection Sunday, when it finds out the opponent, time and place of its NCAA first round game.