CLEVELAND, OH – Jeremy Harris scored a career-high 27 points and added 10 rebounds to help the top-seeded University at Buffalo men's basketball team hold off a pesky eighth-seeded Central Michigan squad, 89-74, in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday afternoon. It was the Bulls' school-record 24th win and they will next play the winner of Ball State/Kent State in the semifinals on Friday night.
The Bulls nearly led wire-to-wire, but it took them until the game's closing minutes to get the knockout punch. It looked as if Buffalo was going to pull away midway through the second half when a Dontay Caruthers layup put the Bulls ahead 68-56 with 11:40 left. However, the Chippewas mounted a 14-4 scoring run to cut the Buffalo lead to 72-70 with 5:49 remaining.
Harris, who had the best game of his career, nailed his fourth three-pointer of the day on the Bulls' ensuing possession to extend the UB lead to five. CMU continued to fight and hit a jumper to cut the UB advantage to 77-74 with 2:35 left. But a Wes Clark three-pointer ignited a 12-0 scoring run to end the game and gave the Bulls the 15-point victory.
"I told our guys going in that on the offensive end, we may struggle a little bit," head coach Nate Oats said. "We may have to find other ways to win it. It was the first time in 11 games we didn't shoot over 50 percent from the field, but we had 19 offensive rebounds, so if you get 19 o-boards, and you still shoot 45 percent, you'll probably be all right. I thought we found other ways to win the game."
Clark had struggled to find his shot all game, but was able to help the Bulls in other ways. The senior guard finished with 11 points, a career-high eight rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals. C.J. Massinburg finished with 18 points, including four three-pointers. Nick Perkins added 16 points.
Harris was the star of this game. The North Carolina native had an answer for every Chippewa threat. He shot 9-of-16 from the field and knocked down four three-pointers.
Carruthers had a career-high eight assists to go along with four points and five rebounds and spearheaded a defensive effort that held the Chippewas to 36.1 percent shooting for the game.
Buffalo has advanced to the semifinals for the third time in the last four seasons and will play on Friday night at 6:30 pm.