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100 years of UB Basketball: 50 Moments - #49 - Turner Battle

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To celebrate 100 years of UB Basketball and UB's 2015 MAC Basketball Championship UB Bull Run presents 50 great moments of UB Basketball's first century.

Turner Battle came to UB as one of the nation's top point guards. Initially recruited by UB interim coach Reggie Witherspoon, Battle became a priority once Reggie became head coach, and Spoon was able to seal the deal.

Battle amassed a 56-56 record as a Bull scoring 1,414 points, (6th in UB history), 502 rebounds, 458 assists (3rd in UB history) and 170 steals (5th in UB history). Battle was the first Bull with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists.

Not only was Battle the leader of the UB team that advanced to the MAC Championship game and the School's first NIT bid, Battle also helped establish Alumni Arena as one of the hardest places to win in the MAC. In his first 30 games at Alumni Arena, Battle was 15-15. In his final 20 games at Alumni, he was 18-2.

February 23, 2002 - Buffalo 87 - Marshall 62

The 12-13 (6-9) Marshall Thunder Herd came to Buffalo to take on the 11-15 (6-9) Bulls in a battle of middling MAC East teams. After falling behind 9-8 with 5 minutes elapsed, UB never trailed. In the first 11 minutes of the game, Battle scored 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting, had 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal as UB used a 17-2 run to open up a 25-11 lead.

UB continued the run, eventually scoring 22 points in a row to take a 36-11 lead. Marshall cut the lead to 20 at 38-18 when Battle turned his game on again. In the final 3 minutes of the half, Battle grabbed 3 more rebounds, hit another jumper and assisted on Darcel Williams' 3-point shot as time elapsed. Battle ended the half with 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting, 4 assists, 7 rebounds and a steal as UB led 49-21.

Had the game been more competitive, Battle probably would have recorded a triple double. He finished 2 assists and 1 rebound shy. In 30 minutes on the court, Battle recorded 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists as UB easily defeated Marshall 87-62.

The game was important, as it looked like UB would earn a home game in the MAC Tournament opening round. Unfortunately, UB lost their final two MAC games and Marshall won their final games. The Herd earned a home game, defeated NIU and went to Cleveland. UB had to travel to Miami for the opening round where their season ended.

The Marshall game was a sign of things to come from the do-everything Battle. The MAC took notice as Battle made the MAC All-Freshman team.

January 15, 2003 - Buffalo 68 - Kent State 69

A finger Injury ended Battle's 2003 campaign prematurely, however those who made it to Alumni Arena early in the year saw a star in the making. Against 9-2 (2-1) Kent State, the struggling Bulls 2-9 (0-3) has an opportunity to turn their season around with a signature win.

After falling behind 9-4, UB went on a 16-0 run. During the run, Battle scored 5 points, and dished 2 assists. UB led by as many as 11 points but Kent, led by Eric Haut and Antonio Gates, brought the lead down to 2, 31-29. UB finished the half with a 7-1 run to give the Bulls an 8 point lead over the best team in the MAC.

UB held their lead for most of the 2nd half, but a Kent run tied the game with 4:57 remaining. Battle broke the tie with two free throws, and an assist on a Mark Bortz dunk to put UB up 62-58. Kent fought back and a jumper by Antonio Gates gave the Flashes a 65-64 lead. Two Daniel Gilbert free throws put UB up 66-65, but Antonio Gates tied the game again with a free throw with 7 seconds remaining. Turner Battle took the inbound pass, drove the length of the floor and hit the game winner, with 2.3 seconds remaining.

Which was enough time for Kent to find Bryan Bedford who released a three-pointer with no time remaining that went in, stealing UB's signature victory and a signature moment from UB's Sophomore guard. Despite the loss, Battle stared recording 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in 37 minutes.

December 13, 2003 - Buffalo 81 - Niagara 79

3-3 UB faced 4-0 Niagara University. Since defeating Niagara in 2002, the Bulls were 5-22, while the Purple Eagles were 20-7 after their loss at Alumni Arena. With the two programs trending in opposite directions, Niagara could asceend to the top of the Western New York College Basketball throne with a win over the Bulls at the Gallagher Center.

While Juan Mendez and Mark Bortz battled under the rim, Turner Battle added 7 points and 5 assists in the first half as UB controlled the half, leading for the final 7 minutes and taking a 38-33 lead into the locker room.

With 16 minutes remaining in the game, Battle stole the ball and hit a jumper in transition to give the Bulls a 48-39 lead, but Niagara countered with a 11-1 run to give the Purps their first lead in 15 game minutes. Down 61-60, UB regained the lead with a Battle layup, then Battle found Jason Bird for a three-point shot, and Battle grabbed a steal that he converted into a layup. The Battle-powered 7-0 run gave the Bulls a 6 point lead. The run continued as Battle grabbed another steal and layup to put the Bulls up 12, 73-61 with 4 minutes remaining.

Niagara chipped at the lead, down 77-69 with two minutes remaining, and with a minute remaining, a pair of three-pointers by Niagara's Tremmell Darden cut the UB lead to two, 79-77. After a missed free throw by Jason Bird, Yassin Idbihi fouled Juan Mendez as he collected the rebound. Mendez hit both free throws to tie the game with 20 seconds remaining.

With five seconds left, Reggie called a timeout and UB drew up a play for Battle. Battle delivered, hitting the game winning bucket with one second remaining. Battle hit the first and last shots of the 81-79 victory and led all Bulls with 21 points. Battle added 8 assists, 5 steals, and 4 rebounds.

Niagara finished the season 22-10, but by the end of the year, Battle's 17-12 Bulls were the talk of the town. For his efforts, Battle was named second team All-MAC.

March 16, 2005 - Buffalo 81, Drexel 76

After leading UB to their best Division 1 season Battle took the Bulls within a fraction of a second of a MAC Championship. In his final game at Alumni Arena, Turner Battle had one more first for UB: UB's first postseason tournament win. The 22-9 Bulls hosted 17-11 Drexel in the opening round of the NIT.

Battle started hot with the games first points and after 9 minutes he amassed 8 points, 2 rebounds and an assist. UB fell behind by 2 at the half in a fight between UB's 7-man balanced attack and Drexel's 3-man attack led by Jeremiah King, Dominick Mejia and Sean Brooks.

In the second half, the game went back and forth until Drexel opened up an 8 point lead with 5 minutes remaining. Battle put in two points and two assists as UB went on a 9-3 run to tie the game for the 16th time with only 85 seconds remaining. With nice seconds remaining, Drexel hit a free throw to take a 2-point lead. Turner Battle, like he had done many times before, took the inbound pass ,drove the length of the court and hit the game tying layup.

In overtime, Battle scored his final points at Alumni Arena, two free throws that appropriately ended up as the game winning points. Battle finished the game with 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.

UB's season would end days later, but Battle's greatness was recognized, he was UB's first MAC Player of the Year, and he was named First-Team All-MAC and an AP All-America Honorable Mention.