The Youngstown State men's basketball team closed out Buffalo with an impressive run on Tuesday night to knock off the Bulls for the first time since December 2002. YSU blew open a 53-49 contest scoring nine straight points and went on to earn a 64-53 victory to improve to 2-0.
With the score 53-49, senior Ashen Ward scored five straight points to end any Buffalo (1-1) comeback hopes. With 2:42 left, Ward drained a 14 footer driving across then on the next possession, he canned a trey with exactly two minutes left and the Bulls never threatened again.
With the win, YSU starts a season 2-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.
Ward finished with a career-high 13 points while Damian Eargle snared a career-best 14 rebounds and added three blocks. Devonte Maymon also scored 13 points while Vytas Sulskis had 10. Newcomer Tre Brewer came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds and score six points in 27 minutes of action.
Each time Buffalo made a run, the Guins had the answer in the second half.
The Bulls pulled within one point at 46-45 with on a Javon McCrea basket with 7:11 left. But once again Ward kept the Penguins in front converting an old-fashioned three-point play with 6:30 left on the clock.
Buffalo trimmed the deficit to 53-49 before Ward struck for five straight points and put the game on ice.
YSU shot 38.9 percent (21-of-54) while Buffalo was 21-of-55 (38.2 percent) for the contest. The Guins dominated the boards by a 46-33 margin.
Both teams played a streaky first half that saw each squad make 10 field goals, combine to miss 15 3-pointers and 13 free throws, including nine by Buffalo.
The Bulls shot out of the gate building a 10-2 lead while the Guins turned the ball over five times in the first four-plus minutes.
Once the Guins settled in they went on a major run.
YSU scored 17 straight points to go on top 19-10 with 11:09 left in the half as Buffalo did not score from the 17:18 mark until the 10:55 onof the half. In fact, after YSU took a 12-10 lead on an Eargle basket at the 13:32 mark they never trailed again. During the 17-point run, Sulskis had six points, Maymon had five while Brewer scored the first four points of his YSU career.
Buffalo fought back within 23-20 at the 7:50 mark by scoring 10 of the next 14 points. The Bulls cut the deficit to three when Tony Watson made one-of-two free-throw attempts.
The Guins went on their second major run of the half scoring nine straight to lead 32-20 after Blake Allen canned a 3-pointer with 4:30 left.
From there, YSU went cold missing its final five shots and did not score the remainder of the first half.
Buffalo scored the final nine points of the first half with the last bucket a back-door layup just before the buzzer by Dave Burnett to pull within 32-29 at the break.
In the opening 20 minutes, Maymon scored 10 points while Brewer came off the bench to grab seven rebounds and score six points.
The Penguins play their second straight contest against a team from the Mid-American Conference on Saturday when they visit Akron. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.