The University at Buffalo executed two end-of-game situations to perfection in its 98-96 overtime victory over Canisius College Saturday.
The Bulls forced overtime by getting the ball to their best shooter, senior Jarryn Skeete, for a 23-foot shot from the wing with 6.8 seconds left to tie it, 87-87.
It was a set play, with Skeete running through a screen and taking a pass from point guard Lamonte Bearden.
“Our two bigs set a real nice elevator screen for him,” said UB coach Nate Oats. “They still jumped out on him. He had to hit a tough, contested shot. You’re probably not going to get an uncontested shot down three that late in the game. He’s a big time shooter. . . . He’s got ice in his veins.”
In overtime, UB got the ball with 33 seconds left and the game tied. Bearden dribbled time off the clock, but then was faced with a trap by two Canisius defenders. Bearden dribbled the ball off his toe, regained control, then whipped a pass under the basket to Nick Perkins, who dunked with 4.7 seconds left.
“I wasn’t expecting them to trap,” Bearden said. “Skeete was the initial person I was supposed to look for. . . . Perk set a down screen for Skeete, which we figured they’d go to. They doubled Skeete and I saw Perk.”
“He had just made a three, so obviously there were trying to take him away, and I was wide open,” Perkins said.
Said Canisius coach Jim Baron: “We didn’t do a great job of defending in regulation. They were getting too many looks. That’s why I made the decision to trap. But we wanted to deny Bearden the ball before he even got the ball. We didn’t do that. Now once he got it, we wanted to trap and not allow him to make a pass out of it. But he made a heckuva play.”
How UB won: The Bulls showed exceptional depth. UB held a 48-21 edge in bench scoring. Bearden had 18, CJ Massinburg and Perkins had 15, Blake Hamilton and Willie Conner had 14. Skeete had 12.
Records: UB is 4-2. Canisius is 2-3.
UB player of the game: Bearden had 18 points, five assists, four steals, three turnovers and shot 7 of 12 from the field.
Canisius player of the game: Sophomore guard Kassius Robertson is playing fast and confident. He had a career-high 24 on 8 of 16 shooti8ng from the field.
What it means for UB: Maybe the Bulls will have enough scoring this season. And the play of two freshmen – the 6-3 Massinburg and the 6-8 Perkins - is encouraging.
What it means for Canisius: The Griffs’ backcourt combination of Malcolm McMillan and Robertson looks great. Baron will figure out a way to get the defense sorted out. Few MAAC teams are as athletic as UB.
Zebra report: With 1:45 left in regulation, Canisius’ Jamal Reynolds hit a layup and was fouled. He missed the free throw, and Griff Phil Valenti got the rebound. Nobody else reacted to the miss. The officials blew the whistle. Canisius was given possession under the basket and scored again on a Reynolds tip-in to go ahead, 85-84. Canisius got a free two points. UB coach Nate Oats explains what happened:
“The referee said two shots, even though it was an and-one. So our guys didn’t box out because they said two. They’ve got to know better. We talked to them about that. They’ve got to be a little more engaged in the game. But when the referee said two shots we didn’t box out. They grabbed the ball. Then the referees realized they screwed up. So they blew the whistle. It didn’t go to the possession arrow. They said the rule is it goes to the team that got the ball play. My question was my guys didn’t box out because you told them two shots. They said, ‘Sorry, they should have known.’”
Said Baron: “It was a heckuva game, but that was one of the most bizarre officiated games I’ve ever seen in my life. We miss a free throw. Valenti gets the rebound for a put-back and they stop the game? How does that happen?”
No call: After Perkins’ decisive dunk in overtime, Canisius had time for a desperation three-pointer by Robertson from 25 feet. Three UB players defended. The shot did not come close. Baron thought there was contact on Robertson.
Said Baron: “I thought it was very, very physical. There were three guys around him. I thought it was a physical, physical play, and the way they were calling the game all night. I don’t know. I thought he got hit.”
Stat check: Canisius averaged 65.7 ppg last year. The Griffs are averaging 87.8 through five games. Canisius ranked ninth in the MAAC and 219th in the nation in tempo last season, averaging 64 possessions a game. This year they’re averaging 75 possessions a game. They’re playing a lot faster, which Baron likes.
In the house: Paid attendance was 3,112. The students were off, so there was no band and no cowbell. The students will be back for the next game.
Next up: UB plays host to St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Canisius opens its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season at home against Monmouth at 7 p.m. Friday.