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UB women's basketball has ​room for improvement

Women’s basketball looking to end five-game losing streak

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Just days after her women’s basketball team lost on a last-second three-point shot, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack kept her players accountable for their actions on the floor at practice Monday.

Every miscue resulted in a stop in practice. A missed rotation, an allowed basket, a player not making cuts when needed, Legette-Jack would stop the play, sub players in and out and even jumped into the practice to initiate the action she wanted.

“I’m kicking it up a notch, I’m trying to keep them more accountable for their actions,” she said. “I love for our coaches to do it, but they don’t, I have to do it. We didn’t lose that game because of the final shot. We lost that game because we missed 45 stops on defense that we’re supposed to stop. They didn’t score every time, but they got comfortable and were able to do anything they want.”

Legette-Jack is trying to right the Bulls (10-9, 2-6 Mid-American Conference) after a five-game losing streak, including Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to Northern Illinois (9-11, 2-7 MAC). Buffalo’s promising 6-0 start seems like a long time ago now and won’t get any easier for the team as it hosts MAC-leading Ohio (17-3, 9-0 MAC) on Wednesday night.

The team lost its top four scorers from last season with graduation of now assistant coach Kristen Sharkey and reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year Christa Baccas, as well as the early retirement for Mackenzie Loesing and the transfer of Alexus Malone.

So far the lone bright spot for Buffalo offensively has been junior guard Joanna Smith, who’s averaging 18.6 points per game and recently had a career-high 31 points in Buffalo’s last game. The Bulls then have sophomore guard Stephanie Reid with 10.3 points per game and junior center Cassie Oursler with 8.2 points per game, but Legette-Jack is still in need of a third and fourth scorer.

“If you can get four people to score in double figures, you’re in good shape,” Legette-Jack said. “We need Stephanie, [Oursler] and [Smith] to give us double digits and if someone else can give us 10, it’s a good day. Now, we’re not getting that fourth scorer, nor that third scorer. We don’t have that consistent third scorer yet and we need that.”

For all of the concern about the team’s offensive production, it’s been the Buffalo defense that has bothered Legette-Jack the most during their losing streak. The Bulls have allowed 74.8 points per game during their five-game losing streak, including a dreadful 92-point outburst by Western Michigan. A far cry from the 59 points the Bulls aim to keep their opponent under.

Legette-Jack minced no words in expressing her “disappointment” in Buffalo’s play on the defensive side.

“I’m very disappointed in our defense,” Legette-Jack said. “We are giving up 76 points, 69 points, 64 points, our goal is to keep them under 59 and we have no pride in that. We give up 17 more points than we want to. We hold [Northern Illinois] to 59, we win that game hand over fist. We have to take more pride on the defensive side.”

Despite the team’s current play, the Bulls look to continue to improve with their younger players. The Bulls have just one senior on the roster, and the majority of minutes played are made up by freshmen and sophomores. Legette-Jack said that more time together on the floor would help.

Sharkey who starred on the court for the Bulls last season in her senior year, said that it takes time for a team to gel and she also sees the steps being made for the team to improve.

“I remember when I played my first few seasons under Jack, we had some losses and some miscues in practice and in the actual games, but as we worked together over time, we began to have more cohesion,” Sharkey said. “We started out really well, but we’re still a young team and sometimes, you go through these rough patches.”

The Bulls get back on the floor Wednesday to face the Bobcats in Alumni Arena at 7 p.m. Even in the midst of a losing streak, Legette-Jack expects her team to come out and play hard. As for a progression, Legette-Jack hopes to see the beginning of that progression soon.

“I really like this team,” Legette-Jack said. “I like what we’re going to be in the future and I hope the future is Wednesday.”

Quentin Haynes is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on twitter at @HaynesTheWriter. 


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