The No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers (0-1) dropped their season opener to the Buffalo Bulls (2-1) 99-94 inside the WVU Coliseum. The game started sloppy with both teams combining for 10 turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game. They started to settle in and would go back and forth through out the game, trading short runs. But in the end, The Mountaineers couldn’t overcome their mistakes to win the game.
West Virginia started the game on a 10-2 run behind three three-pointers. Lamont West got the scoring started, Sagaba Konate created space off the dribble and drilled it from the top of the key. West finished the run on a corner three and was fouled. He completed the four-point play with the made free throw.
Buffalo climbed back into the game on a 7-0 run to get within one before Lamont West scored on a turn around one hander on the low post, giving the Mountaineers a 15-12 lead.
The Bulls took their first lead of the game,17-16, after a CJ Massinburg three and Jeremy Harris’ layup. They build their lead up to four, until Brandon Knapper hit a pair of free throws.
The Mountaineer retook the lead on a Chase Harler three, then Beetle Bolden followed it up with a three of his own to go up 26-22 with just over five minutes to play in the first half.
West Virginia had an eight-point advantage at the 2:12 mark, but Buffalo hit back to back buckets to cut the lead to four. Esa Ahmad and Bolden finished out the half with layups to give the Mountaineers an eight-point lead at halftime.
The Mountaineers shot 13-30 from the field and 7-17 from three. They were outrebounded 28-24 and gave up 14 offensive rebounds. WVU forced eight turnovers. Nonetheless, they gave the ball way 11 times.
Lamont West led all scorers with nine and had five rebounds. Beetle Bolden had eight points and three assists. Esa Ahmad had five points and six rebounds.
West Virginia and Buffalo went back and forth to start the second half. Konate started the second half scoring on a jump shot and followed it up with a three pointer. Lamont West hit his third three of the game to give the Mountaineers a 13-point lead, 49-35, heading into the first media timeout.
The Bulls continued to battle and got within six behind three three-pointers from Massinburg.
Esa Ahmad responded by driving to through the lane and creating contact finishing an old fashioned three-point play. Then, Lamont West hit a pair of free throws to put WVU back up 11.
After West Virginia went up 13, the Bulls made another run at the Mountaineers to cut the lead to six, but a reverse layup by Bolden gave WVU an eight-point advantage, 73-65.
Massinburg hit his sixth and seventh three of the game to cut into the Mountaineer lead 81-79 with just under three minutes left in the game.
Esa responded by driving to the basket and creating contact and hot both free throws to put the Mountaineers up four. After an air ball by Jeremy Harris, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins would call a timeout with 1:15 remaining.
Davonta Jordan fouled Brandon Knapper coming out of the timeout; however, he went 1-2 from the foul line to give the Mountaineers a five-point lead.
Jeremy Harris came right back down the floor driving the lane and laying it in to get the Bulls within three 84-81 with 51 seconds remaining in the game.
On the ensuing possession Esa Ahmad drove to the baskets and as there was a scramble for the ball on the floor, Konate touched the ball as his left leg was out of bounds, giving the ball back to Buffalo with 32 seconds remaining.
Jordan released a long range three-pointer that was off the mark and the ball was knocked out of bounds by Ahmad with 17.5 seconds left in the game.
Buffalo inbounded the ball underneath the basket and found Massinburg deep behind the arc and he drained the deep three tying the game at 84 with 14.2 seconds left in the game.
As time was ticking down, point guard Brandon Knapper brought the ball up the floor and had trouble finding anyone open till he passed it to Lamont West, who then launched a deep three that came put short and the game went to overtime.
The Bulls outscored the Mountaineers 11-2 in the nearly the first four minutes of overtime.
This is a tough loss for the Mountaineers that were leading by 10 with just under five minutes left in the game. Although the Bulls are considered a mid-major, Buffalo returned four starters from an NCAA Tournament team that upset the Arizona Wildcats in the second round and are a unanimous pick to win the MAC East in the preseason poll.
CJ Massinburg scored 41 points to lead the Bulls going 12-22 from the field and 9-15 from three. The last time a visiting player scored 41 points on the Mountaineers was Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) on March 8th, 2014.
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