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Second half run leads Bulls to season-opening victory


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo men's basketball team used a 21-4 second half run to pull away from the visiting St. Francis Red Flash as the Bulls won their 2018-19 season opener on Tuesday night, 82-67.  It is the fifth straight year that Buffalo has won its season opener.
Despite struggling from 3-point range in the opening half, the Bulls were 11-of-17 from inside the arc over the opening 20 minutes of play.  St. Francis had its largest lead of the game with 14:24 remaining in the opening half as the Red Flash led 13-9.  St. Francis continued to lead 23-21 when the Bulls answered by going on an 11-0 run, capped off on a layup from sophomore Jayvon Graves, giving Buffalo the 32-23 lead with 6:16 left.  Graves finished with nine points in the opening half.  UB led by as many as 10 points in the first half before taking a 42-34 lead into the break.
St. Francis, who was the preseason pick to win the NEC, fought its way back into the game pulling within one with 12:09 left in the second half.  However, from there a three-pointer by senior Montell McRae ignited the 21-4 run over the next seven and a half minutes, which put the game out of reach.
The Bulls took their largest lead of the night with 3:53 left as a three pointer from Graves put the Bulls ahead 79-59.  St. Francis never got closer than within 15, which was the final margin of victory.
Senior Nick Perkins led the Bulls with 16 points off the bench as he fell just shy of a double-double with nine rebounds.  The Ypsilanti, MI native also added two blocks.  Graves added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, while senior CJ Massinburg added 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
All 11 players found the scoring column for the Bulls, including a trio of players who had eight points.  Senior Dontay Caruthers and junior Davonta Jordan each finished with five assists to go along with their eight points.  Jordan added three blocked shots, tying his career high.  Senior Jeremy Harris also added eight points.
Freshman Jeenathan Williams finished with seven points in his first collegiate game while fellow freshman Ronaldo Segu had two points and four assists.
McRae finished the night with five points and sophomore transfer Tra'Von Fagan had four points and a pair of rebounds.
As a team, the Bulls dished out 22 assists on 30 made baskets, turning it over just 11 times.  UB also finished with 10 steals and 11 blocked shots, which is tied for sixth most in a game in school history.  It was the most in a game against a Division I opponent since having 12 against Manhattan on Dec. 21, 2013.
The Bulls will hit the road for the first time Friday night as they begin a tough two-game road stretch, which start in Morgantown, WV against West Virginia of the Big 12.  That game will tip off at 9pm and air nationally on ESPNU.

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