LATE IN the first half, with both teams shooting like they were playing hoops outside on a slick court on a frigid winter afternoon, the courtside thinking was, first team to 50 points wins.
Buffalo reached 51 points with 2 minutes 53 seconds to go and held on to edge Drexel, 55-52, yesterday in a non-conference game at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
With Buffalo leading, 53-50, for more than 1 minute, Drexel (8-4) had several chances to tie. But Tavon Allen was whistled for charging, then Chris Fouch and Franz Massenat missed three-pointers and Massenat traveled on a drive.
After senior guard Jarold Oldham gave the Bulls (6-4) a 54-50 lead with 15.9 seconds remaining, Fouch's layup cut Buffalo's advantage to two. Massenat then missed another trey attempt and Joshua Freelove closed out the scoring for the Bob Hurley-coached Bulls.
"Fifty two points, at home, sums it up," a frustrated Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "You're supposed to win [those games]."
Fouch and Massenat, Drexel's two leading scorers, suffered through miserable shooting efforts. Fouch (17.5 points per game) shot 6-for-21 from the field (1-for-9 first half) and was 0-for-8 on threes. Massenat (15.6 ppg) was 2-for-12 and 0-for-3.
"I didn't think Chris was taking bad shots," Flint said, "but you have to make [some]. We missed a lot of layups. We missed everything. We missed foul shots in big parts of the game."
The Dragons shot 32.8 percent for the game (1-for-14 on threes) after managing just 28.6 from the field in the first half. Buffalo, which plays in the Mid-American Conference, improved to 35.6 for the game after a 24.1 first half.
"I was proud of our defense," said Hurley, in his first season as Buffalo's coach. "The offense was not pretty at all [much] of the game. Drexel is really good with their screening actions and they have great experience. We were able to protect the paint: We didn't give them real clean drives to the basket very often. Our plan was to make them shoot over us."
Normally, Fouch and Massenat would make an opponent pay for such strategy. But yesterday it worked out for Buffalo. Fouch finished with 13 points, giving him 1,399 for his career. Massenat had 10 points (1,304 career). Allen led the Dragons with 14.
Javon McCrea, a 6-7 senior who is Buffalo's fourth all-time scorer with 1,644 points, was the game's high scorer with 20 points (16 in the second half). Two early personal fouls limited him to 7 minutes in the first half.
Drexel had won five of its last six games before yesterday. Buffalo has prevailed in six of its last eight.
Hurley, who helped Duke win two national championships as a gritty guard, said he's enjoying his first season as a head coach.
"I love it," he said. "I loved the 3 years [as an assistant] with my brother [Danny, 2 years at Wagner, 1 at Rhode Island]."
Hurley jokes that he's recruiting players who weren't born when he played for Duke. "I try recruiting the parents and coaches," the smiling Hurley said. "The Internet helps, although my highlights aren't that flashy."
Flint said Hurley told him before the game "there's a lot more pressure" as a head coach than he thought there would be, even in Buffalo, which isn't exactly a hoops haven.
Drexel, which has beaten Alabama and dropped close games to Arizona and UCLA, has one more non-conference game before launching its Colonial Athletic Association schedule. The Dragons, picked second in the CAA's preseason poll, make the journey to Hattiesburg, Miss., to face Southern Mississippi on Friday.