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UB women’s basketball continues losing streak despite Smith’s career day

Bulls lose fifth straight conference game

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It was the three-point shot that kept the Buffalo women's basketball team in the matchup for the first 39 minutes and 59 seconds of the game.

And in that one remaining second, the very shot that almost ended the Bulls’ losing streak turned out to be the team’s demise.

Even with a career day from junior guard Joanna Smith, the Bulls (10-9, 2-6 Mid-American Conference) were thwarted by Northern Illinois’ Cassidy Glenn’s last-second, game-winning three-pointer. Glenn’s last-second shot gave the Huskies (9-11, 2-7 MAC) a 76-74 victory at the Convocation Center in Dekalb, Illinois.

“It’s important our kids understand that sometimes, you have to play against a lot more people than your team,” said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack regarding a last-second shocker. “We have to continue to get better in that regard. We didn’t know how to adjust.”

Buffalo has lost five straight conference games and is only one game above .500 after beginning the season 6-0.

With Buffalo clinging to a two-point lead with four seconds left in the game after two clutch free throws by sophomore guard Stephanie Reid, Courtney Woods, the Huskies’ biggest three-point threat, took the ball out of bounds.

Legette-Jack devised the play so Woods would be tightly covered after inbounding the ball – and she succeeded.

But Northern Illinois had another sharp shooter in Glenn. With four seconds remaining on the clock, Glenn took an assisted pass from the right side, stepped back and sunk the shot from the top of the key as time expired to win the game.

If it weren’t for Smith, it’s hard to gauge the Bulls would have been in the game in the first place. The rising star cemented herself as Buffalo’s main offensive threat a while back, but Saturday was different. She took over the game in a way she hadn’t done before.

The junior dropped a career-high 31 points and 14 rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting from the floor. All but 10 points were by way of the three ball – a category she prides herself on.

“I thought [Smith] did a great job today,” Legette-Jack said. “She really went after that game with every vigor in her body. She has some opportunities to put the ball in the hole and she stepped up.”

There was really no stopping Smith all day. If she wasn’t sinking a deep ball, she would find her way into the paint and draw a foul or take it right to the rim.

She even took over on all facets of the defense, grabbing rebounds over players with significant height advantages, including her own teammate, junior center Cassie Oursler, who finished with seven boards.

Is there a correct way to guard Smith? No – at least according to Legette-Jack.

“The only way you can stop somebody like [Smith] is to do it in a way that’s not fashionable,” Legette-Jack said. “Nevertheless, we’re a team that is going to get better.”

Smith was the victim of hard-nosed man-to-man defense for the majority of the game. And she still managed to have the game she did.

The main problem was the rest of Buffalo’s playmakers simply didn’t have their best games. Reid finished with just six points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field, to go along with five assists. Oursler fouled out in just 27 minutes played. Freshman guard Gabi Bade shot 17 percent (1 of 6) in her first-ever start.

“She has to get better,” Legette-Jack said of Bade’s performance. “Your first career start and you lose. Everybody has to get better.”

The five-game losing streak is Buffalo’s longest this season. After starting the season 6-0, the Bulls dropped nine of their last 13 games and have went from one of the best in the MAC to a cellar team.

It doesn’t get easier, as Buffalo will take on Ohio (17-3, 9-0 MAC) next week in the two team’s first matchup since the MAC Tournament last year, where the Bobcats eliminated the Bulls in the Semifinals.

The matchup will take place on Feb. 3 at Alumni Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com Follow him on twitter at @jordanmgrossman


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