NIU begins MAC play against Buffalo

By Jemea Green

DeKALB —  To bring in the New Year, men’s basketball will travel 1 p.m. Saturday to New York to take on the University of Buffalo Bulls. 

NIU was defeated in their final non-conference game of the season against the University of Green Bay Phoenix 85-84. Senior guard Eugene German led the team with 21 points, followed by sophomore guard Trendon Hankerson who scored a career high 18 points, and redshirt senior forward Lacey James added 12 points of his own.

The Huskies come into Saturday’s matchup with a 7-6 record. 

Buffalo closed out their non-conference schedule with a win over St. Bonaventure University, snapping the Bonnies’ seven-game win streak. The Bulls were led by junior guard Jayvon Graves, who scored a career-high 28 points. Sophomore forward Josh Mballa was behind him, scoring 14 and sophomore forward Jeenathan Willams added 12 more.

Buffalo brings a 9-4 record into their battle against the Huskies. 

The Bulls are looking to defend their Mid-American Conference title from last season. One of the two MAC losses Buffalo suffered last season was against the Huskies.

In the last regular season matchup between the two teams, NIU defeated then 14th-ranked Buffalo in a nail-biting game that came down to the final second. 

With just 0.6 seconds left on the clock Hankerson found senior forward Noah McCarty under the rim for a layup to upset the Bulls 77-75. The Huskies led by six with under a minute to play before former Buffalo guard C.J. Massinburg scored a quick six points with six seconds left to tie the game. 

The crowd rushed the floor following McCarty’s layup, but Buffalo called a timeout with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. The Bulls launched a long pass down the court which was intercepted by former NIU senior guard Dante Thorpe, sealing the game. 

This game will begin MAC play for both teams.