The University at Buffalo repaid Ohio U. for a last-second loss at Alumni Arena in January, returning the favor Tuesday night at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.
The Bulls led most of the way and held off the Bobcats in the final minute for an 83-79 victory that left the teams even in the Mid-American Conference standings at 10-7, each with one game remaining.
In Davidson, N.C., after trailing the entire game, St. Bonaventure had a last opportunity to catch Davidson in the final minute. A missed shot, a turnover and a foul kept the Bonnies at bay as the host Wildcats walked away with a 68-63 Atlantic 10 Conference victory at Belk Arena.
UB left the door open for another heartbreaking loss when Dontay Caruthers missed the second of two free throws with 18.4 seconds left, leaving the score at 81-79. Ohio coach Saul Phillips called time out to set up a tying or winning basket. The Bobcats first attempt was blocked out of bounds. Ohio inbounded the ball again with 6.2 seconds left but Jason Carter’s shot from the paint rolled off the iron and CJ Massinburg rebounded for UB and was fouled with 0:01 left. Massinburg made the last two free throws wrapping up a prized victory for the Bulls.
Massinburg and Willie Conner had 19 points each for UB, and David Kadiri added 14. Blake Hamilton and Nick Perkins had off nights. Hamilton, UB’s scoring leader, had only eight points. Perkins had seven before fouling out in the final minutes.
Carter led Ohio with 19 points while Jordan Dartis had 18. Jaaron Simmons had 15 before he fouled out.
UB, which led 40-35 at the half, made 32 of 57 field goal tries, including 7 of 19 from three-point range. Ohio was 28 of 66, 8 of 22 on threes. The Bobcats had more chances at the line but were only 15 for 22 while UB was 12 of 14.
The Bulls will wrap up the regular season at home against Bowling Green on Friday night. A win over the Falcons will give UB a good chance of finishing in one of the top four spots in the overall MAC standings and gain a first-round bye in next week’s MAC tournament in Cleveland.
Davidson star Jack Gibbs easily won the competition between the top two individual scorers in the A-10. Gibbs, the No. 1 scorer in the conference, had 29 points while No. 2 Jaylen Adams of the Bonnies was limited to 14. Adams’ backcourt mate Matt Mobley was held under his average, too. He had 16 points. The two Bona snipers were a combined 2 for 6 from three-point range. To make matters worse, senior Denzel Gregg, the Bonnies’ other scoring option, had only three points and no field goals in five tries.
The Wildcats' biggest lead was 26-12 with 7:15 left in the first half. Davidson led, 29-26, at the half.
The Bonnies had possession, trailing by three, 64-61, in the final minute. Gregg missed a jumper and the Bonnies turned the ball after collecting the offensive rebound before Gibbs made a pair of free throws and Peyton Aldridge made a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left to seal it.
The loss dropped Bona to 18-11 overall, 10-7 in the conference. Davidson is 14-14, 8-9 in the conference.
The University at Buffalo women's team will kick off the final week of its regular season at Akron tonight. The Bulls (19-8, 9-7 Mid-American Conference) defeated the Zips (9-18, 2-14 MAC), 81-51 at Alumni Arena on Feb. 18. Akron won both regular season games against UB last season, but the Bulls won their semifinal meeting in the MAC Tournament on their march to the championship.
UB will be trying to recover from a 64-62 loss to Bowling Green on Saturday at Alumni Arena in their regular season home finale. The Bulls' last regular season game will be at Kent State on Saturday. It's likely that UB will host a first-round game in the MAC Tournament on Monday. The first four teams in the conference standings receive byes into the conference tournament quarterfinals in Cleveland next weekend.