Caruthers leads defense; UB claims second straight MAC title

The Buffalo Bulls pose with the MAC trophy after winning the MAC conference tournament championship game against the Bowling Green Falcons at Quicken Loans Arena. (Photo: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

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CLEVELAND, OH – The University at Buffalo men’s basketball team outscored Bowling Green, 24-8, over the final eight minutes of the game to beat the Falcons, 87-73, and win their second straight Mid-American Conference Championship at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night. The Bulls have now won four of the last five MAC Championships.

Early on, it looked like it would be smooth sailing for the Bulls as they jumped out to a 28-13 lead. However, the Falcons fought back and closed the half on a strong run to cut the UB lead to 39-38 at the half.

It was a back-and-forth affair for most of the second half. Bowling Green took a 65-63 lead with 8:54 left in the game. However, a Davonta Jordan three-pointer with 8:02 left, gave the Bulls the lead for good. Jayvon Graves followed with a three-pointer of his own to up the lead to four. Graves struck again with another corner three to put the Bulls ahead by six with 4:08 left. It was that shot that really opened the floodgates for UB.

Jeremy Harris, who scored a game-high 31 points, tallied eight straight for the Bulls to up the lead to 13 and put the game out of reach. The senior guard had one of the finest games of his career en route to being name the MAC Tournament MVP. Harris’ 31 points came on 13-for-20 shooting and included four three-pointers. The Falcons had no answer for Harris.

Graves finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. CJ Massinburg notched a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan scored 11 pointers and knocked down three three-pointers. As a team, the Bulls connected on 13 three-pointers.

Defensively, the Bulls held Bowling Green to just 12-of-36 shooting in the second half. Dontay Caruthers led the defensive effort with a game-high four steals.

Buffalo became the first team in Mid-American Conference history to win four titles over a five-year span. The Bulls now have 31 wins on the year, the most ever by a MAC team.

Harris and Massinburg were both named to the All-Tournament team.

Buffalo will now wait until Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show to see who, when and wher they will play in the NCAA Tournament.

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