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Alumni Arena wasn't a sellout on this night, mostly because Buffalo's football team was to play Ball State for the MAC championship on Friday night in Detroit and many fans had already departed for that game.
But Pierce had the hometown fans that did come on their feet at the outset, hitting his first four shots from the field in the first three minutes as the Bulls raced to an 8-2 lead.
The enthusiasm never waned as the Bulls matched UConn shot for shot in the opening half behind Pierce, who made his first seven shots and scored 17 points before the break.
There were 15 lead changes and four ties in the game, and Buffalo held the biggest lead, 24-16, after a backdoor layup by Sean Smiley at 9:50.
After Adrien's dunk moved the Huskies within 24-21 at 8:20 of the first half, neither team led by more than three points until Thabeet's free throws gave Connecticut the 57-53 lead.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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