It was a tale of two halves in Buffalo’s final game before starting MAC play, and those halves were mostly the same as the Bulls handled the Maine Black Bears by a final score of 79-60.
Scoring opened slowly at first, with Buffalo’s Blake Hamilton finally getting the ball rolling after a minute and a half. Austin Howard drained a three to give Maine the lead after two missed Davonta Jordan free throws. The Black Bears dominated the next few minutes, jumping out to a 7-2 lead and triple-teaming Nick Perkins, leading to a traveling call.
Fouls killed the Bulls early on both sides of the ball, as they picked up three defensive fouls after Hamilton split a pair of free throws. The Bulls were fortunate to keep the Bears at bay for the time being, and Hamilton drained a three to take an 8-7 lead, and then contributed another basket, drawing a foul in the process and converting the free throw.
Offensive mistakes from Maine and fortunate rebounds from Buffalo allowed the Bulls to take a 15-7 lead before the Black Bears found the net again, and an Austin Howard three trimmed the lead to 15-12.
Quate McKinzie jumped up to finish off a sensational alley-oop in response, and then followed himself up with another, before CJ Massinburg extended the Bulls’ lead to six. Wes Myers hit from three for Maine, and Willie Conner responded in kind for Buffalo to lead 27-22 before hitting from beyond the arc again. Buffalo entered the bonus with 1:39 left in the first, and Perkins converted both shots.
Maine big man Marko Pirovic went down with an injury, and the Bulls continued to manage the Black Bears, leading 37-27 at the half.
Maine stormed out of the gate in the second half with five unanswered points before the Bulls drew a foul, and Ikenna Smart made one of two shots. Maine’s Austin Howard eventually made it a one-point game with three free throws, and Buffalo coach Nate Oats substituted five new players onto the court.
McKinzie drew a foul on a made layup, converting the free throw, and earning the Bulls a 9-point lead. Dontay Caruthers made the lead double digits from the line, hitting both shots and welcoming back the Bulls team that dominated the first half. UB led 55-42 shortly after the 12-minute mark, and Massinburg added three soon after. Among all the Buffalo scoring, Maine went nearly six minutes without a point.
Maine’s woes continued when they were called for a backcourt violation down 12, and Willie Conner joined Hamilton and Massinburg in the double-digit scoring club. Buffalo’s lead ballooned to double digits for a time, and the waning minutes of the game were for the most part unremarkable as the Bulls rolled to victory.
Buffalo improves to 6-7 after completing non-conference play, and Maine falls to 4-10. The Bulls are in action next at Toledo on January 3 for both teams’ lid-lifting conference game.