A back and forth first half gave way to strong defensive performance this afternoon in Alumni Arena, as UB moved back above .500 in the first game after the fall semester's final exams, beating Montana State 80-73.
David Kadiri was the unlikely sparkplug for the Bulls as the home team pulled away in the second half thanks to very strong on-ball defense and the junior transfer. After Montana State's Marcus Colbert scored 11 points in the first half, the Bobcats found plenty of points in the paint, and Ikenna Smart picked up his third foul quickly out of the break. But Kadiri over the course of a 10-0 run tallied six points, two blocks, and three rebounds in three minutes. UB didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
Montana State got 16 points from freshman Tyler Hall in the second half, but faltered against the Buffalo defense, shooting just 10-36 after the break. Hall finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds but the Bobcats followed up their 41-point first half with just 32 in the second, even with a frantic uptick in the dying minutes.
UB had four players hit double digits, including a steady 18 points from Lamonte Bearden, and in particular shined from the free throw line in the second half, shooting 13-16 on freebies to maintain their lead. Six Bulls had four or more rebounds, and CJ Massinburg had three assists and three steals.
This wasn't a particularly pretty game, but it's a win. The Bulls (6-5) have just two nonconference games left, and now hit the road for a Tuesday game against VCU.