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Princeton grinds out 57-53 win over the University at Buffalo

BUFFALO - The University at Buffalo men’s basketball team dropped its home opener to Princeton, 57-53, at Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The Bulls got off to a sluggish start, not scoring their first points until the 12:08 mark of the first half. However, UB played solid defense and only trailed, 7-2, at that point. The Bulls kept fighting and trailed 22-21 at the half. Hampered by foul trouble, Javon McCrea was limited to just six minutes in the first half and was held to zero points and one rebound.

That all changed in the second half when the junior All-MAC forward exploded for 22 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. McCrea scored the Bulls’ first 11 points of the second half and UB led 30-26 with 13:57 remaining.

Buffalo led 35-32 with 12:16 left, when Princeton mounted a 12-2 scoring run to turn a two-point deficit into a 44-37 lead with 8:44 remaining.

Trailing 54-49, Buffalo made one last charge. Tony Watson drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the Princeton lead to 54-52 with 1:27 left. McCrea came up with a huge block at the other end to give the ball back to UB. McCrea was able to make one of two free throws and the Bulls trailed 54-53 with 41 seconds remaining.

But Princeton’s Will Barrett would silence the UB faithful as he hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to seal the win for the Tigers.

Watson scored 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Making his UB debut, Will Regan finished with seven points and five rebounds. Jarod Oldham had seven points, six rebounds, three assists and two of Buffalo’s seven blocked shots.

“It started off as a sloppy game, but I thought both teams played really hard,” head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “It had a lot of those symptoms of the first game - decisions made by adrenaline, at least for us. I think they did a pretty good job passing the ball. Overall, I think it was really good opportunity for our guys to learn against a really good opponent.”

It’s a quick turnaround for the Bulls who will next play at Florida State on Monday night.

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