NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NY – A game after scoring a season-low six points, Buffalo's bench responded with a season-best 39 points to help the Bulls defeat Niagara, 82-74, at the Gallagher Center on Wednesday night. Titus Robinson and Tony Watson led the effort of the reserves with 12 points apiece.
Buffalo won its second straight road game and improved to 5-2 on the season. The Bulls matched a season high with 10 three-pointers. Zach Filzen, who shared game-high honors with 16 points, made four three-pointers. Watson and Dave Barnett each had three treys. A sore ankle kept Barnett out of the starting lineup for the first time in 41 straight games. But the senior guard responded with nine points off the bench and hit the biggest shot of the night – a deep three-pointer with 56 seconds left to extend the UB lead to six.
Auraum Nuiriankh made his first career start in Barnett's place and finished with five points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.
Buffalo dominated the first half. The Bulls jumped out to a 10-2 lead, built its lead to as many as 16 and held a 38-28 at the break.
Niagara (3-6) responded in the second half and the Purple Eagles' full court press caused the Bulls fits. After Robinson hit a layup and was fouled, his foul shot gave UB a 60-48 lead with 9:16 left. Niagara forced turnovers on six of the Bulls' next nine possessions and an Ameen Tanksley three-pointer with 4:48 remaining cut the Buffalo lead to 67-65.
Another Niagara three-pointer cut the UB lead to 71-70 with 2:25 left. Javon McCrea answered at the other end with an offensive rebound and a score to put the Bulls back up three before Barnett provided the dagger with his three-pointer.
"I give our guys a lot of credit, because they never let the noise or the momentum change their aggressiveness," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "We obviously have a lot of work to do, because we had 11 turnovers in the second half. But it was a game where momentum can swing just like that."
Buffalo dominated the play inside, outrebounding Niagara, 47-34. McCrea tied a career high with 13 rebounds. Mitchell Watt had seven caroms to go along with 10 points. The Bulls also had a season-high eight blocks, led by McCrea's three.
Buffalo will return home to host Youngstown State at Alumni Arena on Saturday night at 7 pm.