CLEVELAND (Parlay Game) – CJ Massinburg dropped a stack and made four free throws in the last 32 seconds as No. 18 Buffalo played for the Mid-American Conference title with a 85-81 win over Central Michigan semi-final Friday night.
The top of the seeds bulls (30-3), who had a very bad second half, will play the winner of the Northern Illinois-Bowling Green semifinal in the Saturday championship for MAC's automatic bid for the NCAA.
Massinburg, MAC Player of the Year and Buffalo Senior Leader, scored 21 points and Davonta Jordan added 16 points for the Bulls, the defending champions trying to win the school's fourth tournament in five years. Massinburg scored the last nine points of Buffalo.
Buffalo led 79-78 when Massinburg managed to win a bucket. Larry Austin The Chippewas were injured and Massinburg calmly dropped his free throws to help the Bulls escape one of their closest matches of the season.
A team to keep in mind as she filled March Madness next week, Buffalo won her 11th straight win and became the second MAC to win 30 games in one season. The other was Kent State in 2002, a team that went up to the elite eight.
This Buffalo team could challenge this Kent State group as being the best in the history of the MAC before the end of March.
The Bulls, who defeated Akron by 36 in the quarter-finals, had to fight for it.
Making six of their first seven shots early in the second period, the Chippewas took a 61-53 lead and surpassed the best conference team in each phase. But Buffalo reinforced his defense and turned to Massinburg to avoid the mishap.
Austin and Shawn Roundtree scored 16 goals apiece for central Michigan, who lost 14 times against Buffalo in the regular season.
The Chippewas appeared to have been shaken initially, lagging 14-7 and finding it difficult to carry offensive action against Buffalo's aggressive man-to-man defense. But shooting started quickly and the confidence of central Michigan began to grow.
Roundtree had two shots on three points while central Michigan left four from behind in three minutes to take a 27-23 lead.
Buffalo, meanwhile, became cold and finished the half-time with only 3 points out of 18, which is not the game of the Bulls.
Central Michigan: Played their first MAC semifinal since 2015. The Chippewas won their last title of the MAC tournament in 2003, under center Chris Kaman. … lost to Buffalo in the quarterfinals last year.
Buffalo: Jeremy Harris, who scored 23 Thursday, was only 1 in 9 out of 3 points. … will likely receive the highest NCAA Tournament seed from MAC's history on Sunday. Ball State (1989), Eastern Michigan (1996) and Kent State (2008) were all # 9 seeds. … Past the last 18 weeks in the Top 25 Parlay Game, the longest run for a MAC school. …
Central Michigan: season over.
Buffalo: Another title game. Bowling Green is one of the defeats of the regular season Bulls.