With NCAA Tournament aspirations in the air, Buffalo continues its dominance in the Mid-American Conference, experiencing its biggest successful run this late in conference play.
Coming into Friday’s road game at Western Michigan, the Bulls garnered five consecutive wins against league opponents this season. The program was 5-0 at this point of the 1997-98 season, during its final year in the then-Mid-Continent Conference, but Buffalo has never been 6-0.
That is until now, ending a seven-year losing streak at University Arena, picking up the 84-74 win on national television. This gives head coach Nate Oats one win in every MAC gymnasium in his three-year tenure.
Western Michigan has lost two straight games, including last Tuesday at Kent State, coming back from an 18-point deficit, only to fall on a last-second shot.
CJ Massinburg and Jeremy Harris dropped 20 points each for Buffalo on a combined 15-of-23 shooting. Nick Perkins nearly finished with a double-double, grabbing 18 points and nine rebounds.
Five Western Michigan players recorded double-digit points, including Josh Davis, who’s 16 points included four 3-pointers. Thomas Wilder also had 16 points, committing five turnovers in the process for a plus/minus of -11.
In the first half, the Broncos were challenged early, trailing 20-11 at the 11:46 mark before Massinburg recorded a layup to heightening Buffalo’s lead to 12 with less than four minutes before halftime.
But, having been on the wrong end of colossal scoring margins before, WMU fought back, going on a 18-8 run to make it 36-34 once the second half began.
Three lead changes and four ties were the story during the opening seven minutes. Never jumping ahead once in the first half, Western Michigan had a 41-38 advantage following Davis’ field goal from beyond the arc and two free throws recorded by Brandon Johnson.
It later became a four-point game in favor of the Broncos once Davis sunk his third 3-point attempt. But just like how Buffalo was able to win each of its five MAC games in double-digits, the story-line was revisited, with Buffalo taking control of the game with a team effort. They went on to win 84-74.
The Bulls will face Eastern Michigan at Alumni Arena next Tuesday, while Western Michigan stays in Kalamazoo for the third time in four games, hosting MAC West foe Toledo.