SEATTLE, WA – Washington State outscored Buffalo, 13-4, in the final five minutes to hold off the Bulls, 65-54, at KeyArena on Friday night. The Bulls held a two-point advantage at halftime and the lead would see-saw for much of the second half before the Cougars pulled away late for the victory.
Buffalo (4-8) was playing its first game since losing starting point guard Jarod Oldham to a wrist injury. Freshman Jarryn Skeete did an admirable job filling Oldham's shoes as he finished with nine points and four rebounds.
The Bulls jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game. Washington State answered with a 15-1 run to take a 15-8 lead. The Cougars built their lead to 26-16 before the Bulls went on an 11-2 scoring run to cut the Washington State advantage to 28-27. Nuiriankh drained the Bulls' seventh three-pointer of the first half to give the Bulls a 37-35 lead at the break.
Washington State (8-4) tightened up its defense in the second half and held a UB squad that shot 56 percent in the first half to just 21 percent in the second stanza. Despite the poor shooting, the Bulls held a 49-48 lead with 7:06 left.
Washington State's Dexter Kernich-Drew hit a three-pointer with 4:57 left that proved to be the dagger. It gave the Cougars a 56-50 lead and was the key shot in a 9-0 scoring run.
For the second straight game All-MAC forward Javon McCrea struggled and scored an uncharacteristic two points. McCrea played most of the game in foul trouble and played only 18 minutes.
Will Regan finished with seven points, seven rebounds and four assists.
"I give Washington State credit. They played much better defensively in the second half than the first half, but we had so many layups that have to be converted. When you get right to the rim, you've got to come up with those," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "It got us out of rhythm. We didn't have the rhythm necessary to score in the second half and we have to fight our way through that."
Buffalo will return home to play Notre Dame (OH) at Alumni Arena on Dec. 28.