A lot of people are excited for the basketball season to start. I certainly count Buffalo’s CJ Massinburg among them. Maybe the 25 points he scored against Daemen last season had something to do with it. In any case, he got the first rebound of the season. A minute later, he scored the first points on a three. A minute or so after that, he got the first assist.
Massinburg helped Buffalo get an early lead, but Daemen kept it close the entire first half. Neither team shot particularly well, and that’s what both teams wanted to do. They were perfectly happy to take threes and jumpers the entire first half. Very few times did either team try to get the ball into the post, though when Nick Perkins got in the game for the Bulls, they did try to get him the ball a few times on the block.
There was a break in the game at the 8:57 mark. Arif Mahmetaj had 8 for the Wildcats, and Jeff Redband added 7. The rest of the team added zip. The Bulls led 18-15.
After the break, no one was surprised when Massinburg hit a three, to put Buffalo up 21-15. At the 4:25 mark, Massinburg got the first dunk of the season, after jumping a pass, making it 29-22.
At the 2:07 mark, Daemen pulled within one, 29-28. After trading a few free throws, Buffalo went into the locker room with the lead, 31-30.
Nick Perkins started the second half, and took advantage, scoring a few buckets. Unfortunately for the Bulls, the Wildcats were able to hit a couple threes to keep it close.
At the 14:31 mark, Redband hit a three, to give Daemen their first lead in the second half, 42-41. This was part of an 11-0 Daemen run, to eventually give them a 6 point lead with 12 minutes left.
At the 11 minute mark, Nikola Rakicevic tied the game up, and a few moments later, gave the Bulls the lead with a three, 52-51. After, that, he got called for a few ticky-tac fouls going for rebounds. Good calls, bad calls, it’s not game 7 of the world series. It doesn’t really matter. At least in regards to what to expect from NIkola and the Bulls this season.
The score was 57-52, Daemen with the lead with 7:44 left. This means NOTHING because it’s exhibition game. Teams are trying to figure out what they want to do, which lineups work and which newcomers can handle the speed of a college game. Going forward, it starts to matter. I am looking for killer instinct, how players and teams handle stress, and how coaches can put the right lineups together.
What I watched next, I am more convinced of Daemen’s heart, than the lack thereof of the Bulls. At the 2:07 mark, none other than CJ Massinburg had a chance to tie the game with two free throws. He did. Daemen didn’t back down, and took the lead. A few plays later, Massinburg wasn’t to be denied, and drove the lane, got the bucket, and was fouled. A potential game changing play. The Bulls took the lead by 1 with a minute 30 left. Perkins got a block!
Buffalo ran a great set, scoring with 1 on the shot clock and upped the lead to 3.
Redband hit a 3, to tie it up. I told you Daemen had heart. After a couple of chances by both teams to win, it didn’t happen, and we were left with overtime. Something no one really wants in an exhibition game going in, but something that is AWESOME once it happens.
With 2:31 left in overtime, it was still tied. Finally, at the 1:46 mark Buffalo took a 2 possession lead. Was it over? Of course not, I told you these Wildcats had heart. Darius Garvin hit a three, to pull Daemen within 1.
Daemen didn’t win, but I saw a lot of heart from both teams. It would have been easy for Daemen to pack it in and say, “Hey, we gave a D1 school a game till the end.” It would have been easy for Buffalo to pack it in because it was just an exhibition game. Neither team did. And that’s why I love the MAC, and now Daemen.
Winning, even an exhibition, means something.