Men’s Basketball holds on against Alfred State, 98-93

Emmanuel Rodriguez, Associate Sports Editor

“No matter which way you write it, we’re .500!”, Buffalo State Bengals Men’s Basketball assistant coach Arthur Eve Jr. said outside the locker room after the Bengals’ wire-to-wire home 98-93 victory against the Alfred State Pioneers on Wednesday.

But the win came with its share of drama.

The Bengals had started the second half on a 19-6 run and with 15 minutes left in the second half, guard Dom Grayer hit a three-pointer to extend the Bengals’ lead to 21 points, their largest of the night.

However, the Pioneers refused to concede.

They answered right back on a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to nine. The two teams would continue to trade baskets through the rest of the second half.

With 4:44 left, Zak Ciezki nailed a three-pointer to give the Bengals a 90-78 lead. The Pioneers then answered right back with a 10-2 run to cut it down to just two points with 1:02 left.

Guard Yosh Bernardez took over for the Bengals after that.

After Ciezki missed a three-pointer, Bernardez grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. Bernardez calmly hit both free throws to give Buffalo State a four-point lead. He then was able to get a steal in the backcourt and get to the line again. He sank another two free throws to give the Bengals a six-point lead with 42 seconds left.

After Pioneers guard Juwan Toliver made two free throws to cut it back down to four, Bernardez was able to slice his way into the paint to lay the ball up and in to give Buffalo State a six-point lead, which proved to be the dagger.

“We just got to do better defensively,” said Bengals head coach Fajri Ansari. “We noticed at practice, we get a lead, play well and then we relax. We have to correct that.”

Five Bengals finished in double figures in points, led by Sheldon Adams, who had 22 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.

“I’ve just been in the gym, I’ve been more calm,” Adams said. “In the first few games, I was a little nervous. But now, I’m back in action.”

Dom Grayer had 20 points, including five three-pointers.

However, Ansari praises the two guards for their play.

“We rely on (Adams and Grayer)’s scoring,” Ansari said. “We know defenses will start keying in on them. They can both make the three but we’d like to see them go to the basket a little more. It’s still a work in progress.”

The chemistry between the two seems to be unflappable.

“That’s my Splash Brother,”  Adams said of Grayer with a smile. “I love Dom’s work ethic.”

Grayer also had some things to say about Adams.

“I love playing with Sheldon (Adams). At practice, we go up against each other and we push each other to be better shooters,” said Grayer. “In the first half, he had it going but after, he slowed down and looked at me and said ‘All right, it’s your turn.’”

The Bengals started the game off on the right foot.

They were on a 12-3 run after the first 3:33 of play and with 9:30 left in the first half, the Bengals’ lead had swelled up to 13, the biggest lead in the first stanza.

Buffalo State led 48-40 heading into the break.

For the Pioneers, forward Tahaij Lewis had 21 points with 19 rebounds to lead the way. Guard Owen Spencer and forward Dante Jordan tallied 15 points each in the loss.

The Bengals are set to begin conference play this weekend as they will be on the road to take on the Fredonia Blue Devils on Friday night. Things won’t get easier for Buffalo State as the Oswego Lakers and the Cortland Red Dragons will be in town for a pivotal weekend early in the conference schedule next week.

Both the Lakers and Red Dragons made the playoffs last season.

“You can’t be up by 21 and suddenly be up by only two and worry about playing the foul game, you can’t have that against the Cortlands and Oswegos,” finished Grayer as he turned to head back into the locker room.