UB claims Belfast Classic title

East High’s Dontay Caruthers (22) scored eight points and had two assists in the win. (Photo: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports)

Courtesy of UBBulls.com

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – The nationally ranked University at Buffalo men’s basketball team handed San Francisco their first loss of the season on Saturday as the Bulls claimed the Goliath Bracket of the Belfast Hall of Classic with an 85-81 win over the Dons.  Buffalo improves to 7-0 on the season with the victory.

Neither team ever led by double figures in the contest as San Francisco led first with a 10-6 lead with 14:17 left in the opening half.  The Bulls answered with a 9-0 run, capped off on a fast break layup from sophomore Jayvon Graves, giving Buffalo the 15-10 lead.  Another layup from Graves gave UB the 28-20 lead and the Bulls took their largest lead of the half on a three-point play from junior Davonta Jordan, which gave Buffalo a 41-32 lead.  The Bulls led 41-35 at the break.

San Francisco came back in the second half, tying the contest up at 53-53 with 11:23 remaining.  The game remained tied at 55-55 when senior CJ Massinburg drained a three-pointer, igniting a 6-0 run.  The Dons would make it a one possession game again with 6:14 left, but senior Montell McRae drained a huge three pointer, one of two he hit in a 40 second period.  A layup from Jordan put the Bulls back ahead 71-63, but San Francisco had one last run in them.  UB led 78-71 with just 1:40 left when the Dons scored five straight to cut the lead to two.

A late layup from senior Jeremy Harris and a pair of Massinburg free throws extended the lead back to six with just 20 seconds left, but San Francisco was able to cut it to three twice in the final 20 seconds, but Massinburg hit five of his final six free throws to seal the win.

“That was a really good win for us today as San Francisco is a really good team, probably the second best in their league,” said head coach Nate Oats. “To get a win like that on a neutral floor, come March that will probably be a Quad 1 win for us.”

Senior Nick Perkins most named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as he had 22 points, five rebounds, an assist and two blocks in the victory.  Harris was also named to the All-Tournament team with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Massinburg had 15 points, while McRae finished with 11 points, going 4-of-5 from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc.

Graves filled the stat sheet with seven points, eight rebounds, and a team-high five assists.  Jordan added seven points, while senior Dontay Caruthers finished with eight points and two assists.

San Francisco had entered the game allowing just 54.0 points per game, one of the top scoring defenses in the country, but the Bulls were able to put up 85 against the Dons, the most an opponent has put up against them this season.

“Overall, I am really happy with the way the guys played this weekend and I thought this was one of the better MTE events I have ever been a part of,” Oats added.

The Bulls will take their perfect record back to Western New York and UB returns to Alumni Arena on Wednesday night when they host Le Moyne.  Tipoff is at 7:00 pm EST.

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