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Bulls lose to last-place Miami Ohio 78-68

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It took until 1:30 left in the Saturday’s matchup against Miami Ohio for the Buffalo women’s basketball team to hit its first 3-pointer.

A three from junior guard Mackenzie Loesing brought the deficit within five and made a Buffalo comeback a possibility. But as head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said after the game: Any team that shoots 80 percent from beyond the arc is going to win.

She was right.

The last place team in the MAC, Miami Ohio (5-20, 2-12 MAC), defeated the Bulls (15-10, 8-6 MAC) 78-68 in Alumni Arena Saturday afternoon behind an 8-of-10 three-point shooting performance. The Bulls went just 1 of 10 from the perimeter. The RedHawks’ 78 points is the second highest the Bulls have allowed to a conference opponent this season.

“Anybody shooting 80 percent from beyond the arc is going to win,” Legette-Jack said. “You can’t match with 1 for 10. We have to shoot the ball much better. Confidence has been our Achilles heel. As you get further into February, we have to make that confidence stick for us.”

Legette-Jack acknowledged sloppy play on offense and defense, but she said the biggest reason for the loss was the team’s lack of energy in the first 38 minutes. From 3:10 to 1:50, the Bulls went on a 10-0 run to make it a 68-63 game.

“It’s all about energy,” Legette-Jack said. “I think we can compete against anybody in this conference. We don’t lose our confidence because we lost a game, but we certainly have to bring our enthusiasm for every 40 minutes because we’re not good enough to play 38 or 39 minutes.”

The RedHawk’s final 10 points were scored via free throws. Guards Courtney Larson and Baleigh Reid combined to hit 10 of 10 free throw attempts over the last 1:35 of the game to seal the victory. Overall, Miami Ohio shot 18 of 24 from the charity stripe and over 50 percent from the field.

The game was back and forth affair for the majority of the first half. But after taking an 18-16 with 8:08 left in the half, the RedHawks went on a 19-9 run to close out the half, including a 12-0 run between the 5:27 and 2:18 minute marks.

Buffalo shot 40.6 percent (13 of 32) from the floor in the first half and finished the game shooting just short of 42 percent. The team also shot 65 percent from the free throw line and committed 17 turnovers.

Senior forward Christa Baccas played one of the best games for the Bulls. She scored 12 rebounds and added a game-high 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks. She was the only player on the team to register 40 minutes played. She also recorded her fourth double-double of the season.

Despite her effort on Saturday, she said it doesn’t matter how well she plays if the team loses.

“At the end of the day, none of that happens without our team,” Baccas said. “We should have played like we did in the last two minutes within the first two minutes. It’s a learning process and we have to learn from that and take it to the next game.”

Loesing finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting and added four assists and three rebounds while coming off the bench.

Senior forward Kristen Sharkey finished with eight points on 2-of-11 shooting in a rare off-night for the reigning MAC East Player of the Week. She also added eight rebounds and four assists. Legette-Jack admitted the team “didn’t see the best Sharkey, and it’s unfortunate.”

On Saturday, the Bulls did not hold a lead bigger than four points when it was 6-2 in the first half. Saturday was only the RedHawks’ second conference win of the season, as they are tied with Bowling Green (9-16, 2-10 MAC) with the worst record in the MAC.

“It shows you how wide open the conference is as a whole,” Loesing said. “It can be anyone’s year. And it should be our year by all accounts. We have to have the same energy we had in the last two minutes for the entire game.”

The Bulls now fall to 8-6 in conference play after the loss. It is only the team’s second loss in February and their third since Jan. 21. Legette-Jack said the team cannot play like it did today down the stretch, but she said she is convinced the team will make a run at the end of the season and into the MAC tournament.

“We faced adversity on this loss and we’re going to learn from it,” Legette-Jack said. “I like this group. This group is really playing for something that’s special. We now have to finish off strong and win out the tournament. And so we shall.”

The team’s next game will be on Jan. 25 when they take on first-place Ohio (20-4, 11-2 MAC) at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Jordan Grossman is the senior sports editor. You can reach him at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com


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