"Women's basketball turns up defensive pressure, defeats Western Michigan 54-44"

Defense shines in victory over Broncos

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Women’s basketball head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said the Bulls “lacked passion on the defensive end” following Wednesday night’s loss to 81-70 loss to Akron. The 81 points were the highest total Buffalo allowed since Nov. 28 against Tulsa.

But the Bulls did not seem to “lack passion” on Saturday. The result: the third lowest scoring total Buffalo has allowed all season.

The Bulls (14-9, 7-5 Mid-American Conference) defeated Western Michigan (16-8, 9-4 MAC) 54-44. It was the team’s fourth win in its past five games, and the Bulls are now just one and a half games behind Akron for second place in the MAC East.

“We managed the defensive end well,” Legette-Jack said. “There were numerous times throughout the game where they had no clue where we were coming from, and we used that to our benefit. We did tremendous job of boxing out and forcing bad shots.”

Both teams had trouble handling the ball all night as they combined for 38 turnovers. It was Buffalo however that capitalized on their opponent’s turnovers, scoring 17 points off 21 Western Michigan turnovers. The Broncos only scored eight points off of 17 Buffalo turnovers.

“Again, another strong performance with getting steals and forcing turnovers,” Legette-Jack said. “I’m not a fan of 17 turnovers, so we’ll have to work on that, but forcing turnovers, and more importantly, scoring on them on the other end was huge for us today.”

On the offensive end, senior forward Kristen Sharkey led the Bulls with 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block. The combination of Sharkey and junior guard Mackenzie Loesing combined for 25 of the team’s 54 points in victory.

Although Legette-Jack acknowledged the success of Sharkey and Loesing, she mainly credits the collaborative performance over the individual performance.

“It wasn’t just those two, it was a team effort,” Legette-Jack said. “Having two dynamic scorers opens things up for others to get good shots. We have a point guard who can attack the rim, and Sharkey did a good job moving the ball and finding open teammates. Our offense is better when they score, but it isn’t just them.”

Along with Sharkey and Loesing, sophomore forward Alexus Malone scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. Freshman guard Stephanie Reid scored seven points – all from the free throw line. She went 7 for 8 from the charity stripe and added four rebounds and two steals.

Even with the victory over Western Michigan, Legette-Jack said there was room for improvement for Buffalo’s next game.

“Good, could be better,” Legette-Jack said. “I thought we didn’t rebound as quickly as we usually do. We were seconds late on those extra passes, and we had a couple bad shots as a result. Lastly, we got 18 free throws, which was good, but we only made 10 of them. If we hit those other eight, we probably don’t stress as much as we did and we probably aren’t in a close game late.”

The Bulls are now winners of five of their last seven games as they return back home to Alumni Arena for two games. Their next game will be against Kent State (4-19, 2-10 MAC) on Wednesday Feb. 18. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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