CLEVELAND (AP) — Jeenathan Williams scored 26 points and hit a crucial 3-pointer midway through overtime, leading Buffalo to an 81-74 win over Akron in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Friday night.
The second-seeded Bulls (16-7) scored the first seven points in OT, with Williams’ 3 making it 75-68 with 2:35 left. Buffalo missed five free throws in the final 1:29, but Akron (15-8) couldn’t capitalize.
Buffalo will make its fifth title game appearance in the past six tournaments when it meets Ohio on Saturday for the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid. The Bobcats stunned top-seeded Toledo 87-80 in the other semifinal.
The Bulls are technically the MAC’s defending champions after last year’s tourney was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Josh Mballa had 20 rebounds — nine offensive — and 16 points for Buffalo. Ronaldo Segu scored 18 as the Bulls beat the Zips for the second time in 10 days and won their seventh straight.
Loren Cristian Jackson scored 27 points on just 11 of 33 shooting to pace Akron, which rallied late in regulation to force overtime. Enrique Freeman added 11 points and 14 rebounds for the third-seeded Zips.
Buffalo should have closed it out before going to OT, but the nation’s best rebounding team couldn’t come up with two defensive rebounds and committed a charging foul to help Akron.
The Bulls also had a costly turnover with 1.1 seconds left, but Jackson missed a 3-pointer from the corner at the horn that would have won it.
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