No. 17 Buffalo improves to 9-0; Beats St. Bonaventure 80-62
OLEAN, N.Y. (AP) — After spending time back home consoling his mother, Buffalo guard Jayvon Graves paid tribute to his late grandfather the best way he knew how.
Graves hit a career-best five 3-pointers and scored 19 points in helping the No. 17 Bulls remain undefeated with an 80-62 win at St. Bonaventure on Saturday.
“It meant a lot. I made sure I dedicated this game to my grandpa,” said Graves, who learned of his grandfather’s death following Buffalo’s 89-55 win over Le Moyne on Wednesday. “Probably the most difficult time of my life. I never cry in front of people. That was just tough for me.”
Bulls coach Nate Oats was proud of how his junior guard performed, given how Graves returned to Ohio to be with his family.
“Back in time for practice yesterday and came out and played the game of his life,” Oats said. “To come out and perform like that, with that on his mind, I’m really happy.”
Graves made four of his 3-pointers in the first half, and finished 5 of 6 from long range.
Jeremy Harris scored 18 points, while CJ Massinburg scored 14 points and added nine rebounds for Buffalo (9-0), which continues to enjoy its best start to a season since going 15-0 in 1930-31.
The Mid-American Conference Bulls began the day one of the nation’s 10 undefeated teams, and continued a run that began last season.
Buffalo improved to 16-1 in its past 17, with the only loss coming to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Courtney Stockard scored 18 points and added six rebounds in just his fourth game since missing the first six with a knee injury for the Bonnies (4-6), who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
The Bulls were too fast, too big, and unfazed by a rowdy, sold-out and profanity-chanting crowd at what can be an intimidating venue.
The Bonnies lost for only the third time in 20 games at the Reilly Center dating to the start of last season. The previous three ranked teams to play at St. Bonaventure had lost.
The game was essentially over after an overwhelming first-half burst by Buffalo.
After Stockard scored on a pull-up 10-foot jumper to cut Buffalo’s lead to 16-12 with 11:09 left, the Bulls reeled off a 21-2 run capped by Ronaldo Segu scoring on a transition basket with 6:32 remaining.
The Bonnies utterly collapsed by committing four turnovers during that stretch, while the Bulls responded by hitting four 3-pointers in transition, including two by Jeremy Harris.
“We didn’t make great decisions. I think we panicked a little bit,” Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said.
Buffalo led 47-25 at the half, and then scored the first three baskets of the second half — including two transition dunks by Graves — to build a 53-25 edge.
The Bonnies clamped down on defense to make the game respectable in the second half. They eventually cut Buffalo’s lead to 61-49 with 7:59 left, when Jalen Poyser hit two free throws. Buffalo responded by scoring on its next three possessions, including Montell McRae and Jeenathon Williams connecting on 3-pointers.
“I though in the second half, our guys really fought,” Schmidt said. “They didn’t give in.”
Buffalo improved to 3-10 against their regional rival Atlantic 10 Conference Bonnies, and finally won its first official game at the Reilly Center. Buffalo had been 0-6 at the 51-year-old venue, but did enjoy a 53-18 win at St. Bonaventure during the 1915-16 season, before the Bonnies had a varsity program.
“Not an easy place to play,” Oats said. “Some of the crazy stuff that gets said, for them to just focus on the game, ignore the fans and just come out and play basketball, I think is big.”
Schmidt said senior forward Stockard was dealing with cramps on the two occasions he had difficulty getting up. Stockard slowly walked off the court after committing a turnover just before halftime. He limped off once again with 8:20 remaining.
Buffalo: The Bulls will need a more complete performance in preparing to play four of their next five on the road, including back-to-back games at Syracuse on Dec. 17 and Marquette three days later.
St. Bonaventure: A young team can only gain from the experience in how it responded in the second half against a faster, bigger and more experienced team three weeks before opening its conference schedule.
Buffalo: Returns home to complete the season two-game series against Southern Illinois on Dec. 15.
St. Bonaventure: Plays its next four on road, starting with Vermont on Dec. 18.