Senior transfer Gabe Grant scored only five points in the game, but his 3-point shot with 10 seconds to go gave the University at Buffalo a 77-74 Mid-American Conference victory over Akron at the James Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio.
Antwain Johnson led the Bulls with 18 points in the victory that drew UB (14-7, 5-3) to within a game of the Zips (16-5, 6-2) in the MAC East Division standings. The Bulls will face Bowling Green at Alumni Arena on Friday night.
UB led nearly the entire game, but Akron’s hot-shooting guard, 5-foot-8 Loren Cristian Jackson, nearly brought his team to a comeback victory.
Jackson was awarded three free throws on his shot from the left wing on the fast break after a missed 3-point attempt by the Bulls. He made all three to tie the game at 74. It was the first time UB didn’t have the lead since Akron used a 3-pointer by Jackson to go up 11-10 with 9:43 left in the first half.
Davonta Jordan countered Jackson’s 3-pointer with a 3-pointer of his own just 13 seconds later and UB stayed on top before Jackson’s three free throws knotted things.
It ended a seven-point Akron run.
"I can't say enough about the way our guys fought tonight against one of the top shooting teams in the country," said coach Jim Whitesell. "We just stuck with the game plan even when things weren't falling offensively and if you just stay with it, good things will happen. We are very excited to get home and welcome our students back Friday night."
Jackson, last week’s Player of the Week in MAC East, was high scorer in the game with 28 points, including 11 of 11 free throws. He made 5 of 10 3-pointers, a bit of a comedown from his 11 for 18 in two conference games last week.
Jackson also had six assists in 39 minutes.
Jayvon Graves and Josh Mballa each scored 13 points for UB. Mballa, a 6-7 sophomore from Bordeaux, France, turned in a huge performance.
He had 17 rebounds and came through in the clutch at the free-throw line, making 7 of 8, including six straight in the last 4:30. The 17 boards are the most by a UB player since Justin Moss had 17 against Ohio on March 3, 2015.
Jordan had 11 points and Jeenathan Williams 10 for UB.
Grant, a senior from Mount Carmel High in Chicago, is a transfer from the University of Houston. He played only 14 minutes and had one defensive rebound in addition to his five points in Tuesday’s victory. He made 2 of 4 field goal attempts and was 1 for 2 on 3-pointers.
Central Michigan defeated the University at Buffalo women’s basketball team twice during the Mid-American Conference regular season in 2018-19. However, the Bulls won when it counted most, 82-77, in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament in Cleveland and both teams went on to NCAA Tournament bids.
CMU (14-4, 7-0 MAC) will visit Alumni Arena at 7 p.m. on Wednesday to take on the Bulls (13-5, 4-3) in the only regular-season meeting between the teams this season.
Central has won seven in a row since a 64-58 loss at UCF on Dec. 30. UB is coming off a 57-44 win at Kent State on Saturday.
UB freshman Dyaisha Fair is averaging 22.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals in 14 starts. She is currently sixth in the nation in scoring average and eighth in 3-point field goals made per game (3.18).
St. Bonaventure’s men (12-8, 4-3 Atlantic 10 Conference), which have won their last eight games against Fordham, will take on the Rams 7 p.m on Wednesday at the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx.
The Bonnies have lost their last three games, all in conference play, with 6-foot-10 sophomore center Osun Osunniyi out of action because of concussion symptoms.
Bona had lost only one game all season in games that Osunniyi was able play full time. Bona defeated Fordham, 64-44, at the Reilly Center on Jan. 11.
With only one senior on the roster Fordham (7-12, 1-6 A-10) starts three sophomores and two juniors.
The Rams’ scoring leader is sophomore guard Jalen Cubb at 11.6). Cobb also leads the team in assists and steals.