BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team overcame an 11-point second half deficit on Thursday night as the Bulls forced overtime against visiting NJIT and came away with the win in the extra period, 86-81. Playing in just his third game, senior Wes Clark scored a career high 27 points. Thursday's game was UB's final non-conference game as the Bulls finish with an 8-5 record.
The Bulls led for nearly the entire first half, opening the game on a quick 11-4 run. UB led by just two at 25-23 when the Bulls went on a 13-4 run as a free throw from Ikenna Smart gave Buffalo its largest lead of the game at 38-27 with 3:03 left. UB took a 45-36 lead into the break.
Buffalo struggled offensively in the second half as the Bulls shot just 25.8% from the floor and were just 1-of-11 from three. The Highlanders began to cut into the Buffalo lead as the Bulls led just 55-52 with 11:54 left. From there, NJIT went on a 14-0 run to take a 66-55 lead with just 6:27 left. However, the Bulls would allowed the Highlanders to score just two points the rest of the half as Buffalo began to get back into the game.
Junior CJ Massinburg scored five straight to pull UB within six before NJIT went back up by eight with 4:11 left. Back-to-back baskets by Massinburg and Nick Perkins had UB within four and a free throw from Davonta Jordan pulled them within three. Massinburg went to the line with 1:08 left and knocked down a pair to pull UB within 68-67, and following an NJIT miss, junior Jeremy Harris was fouled, and he split the pair to tie the game up. UB was able to force an NJIT turnover, but its last shot of regulation fell short, sending the game into overtime.
NJIT scored the first point of overtime on a free throw to take a 69-68 lead, but the Bulls answered quickly with a big three from Jeremy Harris to take a 71-69 advantage. From there, Clark took over, scoring the next 13 points for the Bulls. UB was perfect from the field in the overtime period, hitting all three field goals, which included two triples. The Bulls were also 10-of-10 from the free throw line in overtime.
"We couldn't make a shot in the second half, but we figured out how to get a win when it wasn't our night," said head coach Nate Oats. "We got the stops when we needed to late and Wes took over in the overtime period like I knew he could."
Clark led the Bulls with a career-best 27 points, besting his previous career high of 26, which he scored while at Missouri against South Carolina. Clark went 8-for-11 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. He added six assists and four steals.
Massinburg had his eighth 20-point game of the season as he finished with 20 points, as he is just three points shy of 1,000 for his career. Massinburg also added 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.
Perkins finished with 14 points and six boards off the bench, while Harris had 10 points and six rebounds. Smart added seven points and six boards.
The Bulls will now turn their attention to Mid-American Conference play, which will begin right after the New Year. UB will host Toledo in the MAC opener on Tuesday night. Tipoff is at 7:00pm and the game will air nationally on CBS Sports Network.