BUFFALO, NY -- Nicc Johnson scored 17 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out 2 assists on senior day to lead the Bryant & Stratton College - Buffalo Bobcats past the Bryant & Stratton College - Albany Bobcats. The win was their second consecutive victory in a three-game home stretch, and more specifically, Saturday was a day that many people who have followed the team throughout the year won't easily forget.
On Saturday afternoon, people filed into Burt Flickinger Athletic Center to watch the final home game of the season for the Bryant & Stratton College - Buffalo Bobcats. Emotions were high, not just because the Buffalo campus had their first basketball team since 1974, or because that team had come together to achieve a winning record, but because the moment had come to say goodbye to its first senior player, Nicc Johnson. Throughout the year, Johnson had achieved much to be proud of on and off the court, and so his family and friends were in attendance Saturday to witness him play his heart out one more time in front of the Bobcat faithful as they took on the Bryant & Stratton College - Albany Bobcats, a tough and resilient team Buffalo had edged by earlier in the season.
In the first half, likely because of the emotion-filled proceedings before the game, Buffalo struggled to find their way. Shooting 36.7% from the field and only 11% from the three-point arc, they worked for almost everything they got. Johnson struggled to find a rhythm, so Jordan Street picked up some of the slack, flashing to the high post to back his man down in the paint. Street put up 7 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, and even dished out 1 nice over-the-shoulder assist. Not far behind was also Tyrell Mitchell; he scored 9 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
For Albany, it was the Reggie Perez and Tyriek Drye show. Drye scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in an inspiring and tough performance. Perez, more or less, carried the rest of the team on his shoulders, scoring from almost every angle. Perez penetrated and lobbed a floater in from about 10 feet. Then, off a pump fake from the wing, he again penetrated the lane but this time to draw contact. Perez would get to the line to knock down a couple of free throws and finish at the half with 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
At the break, both teams seemed to be finding themselves and looking for a way to win the game. Coming out of the locker room at halftime, Buffalo had a slight edge, winning 30-25. They would build on this advantage.
In the second half, Nicc Johnson came out looking more like himself. He slid into the passing lane to steal a Perez pass and finish on the other end. Then he pump faked his defender and pulled up in the mid-range for the jump shot. Next, he would step beyond the three-point line and do what he has done best all season, knock down the three ball.
Johnson waited for his time to attack, and consequently when he felt it come, it came with a vengence. His teammates joined the action. Damone Brown Jr. got a couple of easy lay ups inside and Tyrell Mitchell took the ball strong to the hoop, drawing a couple of fouls and then doing his work from the free throw line.
However, the game wasn't all Bobcats in the second half. They still needed to stop Reggie Perez, and for the most part, they didn't. Perez scored 13 second-half points and got 6 rebounds. Drye continued to work hard on the inside, too. He contributed 11 points and 5 rebounds to the second-half effort.
In the end, it wasn't enough to push Albany over the hump. Buffalo pulled away to win the game 66-57. For Albany, Perez finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Drye had 17 points and 9 rebounds. For Buffalo, Tyrell Mitchell put in 15 points and snatched 7 rebounds. Jordan Street played exceptionally inside, scoring 9 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. But, in the game that was more than a game, Nicc Johnson proved why his undeniable senior leadership and instant offense led the Buffalo Bobcats to their first winning season in their first year as a basketball program. Johnson, who became a member of the 1,000 point club four games back, added a smooth 17 points to the overall tally, and more importantly, another "W" in the win column for his team.
On Sunday, February 17th, Bryant & Stratton College - Buffalo will take on Genessee Community College at GCC Gymnasium. Tip off is 1pm.
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