UB women’s basketball set for MAC Tournament play-in game after defeating Kent State
Bulls roll Golden Flashes on senior night, head to play-in game on Monday
Senior guard Karin Moss is guaranteed one more game at Alumni Arena.
The women’s basketball team defeated Kent State (6-22, 3-15 Mid-American Conference) 63-47 in Saturday’s regular reason finale at Alumni Arena and will host a MAC Tournament play-in game against Bowling Green on Monday. The Bulls (16-13, 8-10 MAC) finished tied for seventh place in the conference, but Western Michigan owned the tiebreaker so the Bulls will enter the MAC Tournament as a No. 8 seed.
Buffalo will also enter as winners of four of its last five games.
After allowing 62 points in its previous game to Akron, the Bulls needed to get back to what they do best: defense. Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack preached to the team all season that it could not give up more than 59 points to any opponent. And in the final game of the regular season, the Bulls responded with one of their best efforts. They held Kent State to 18 first half points, including just six points in the second quarter.
The perimeter defense of Moss and junior guard Joanna Smith was stingy, as the pair pressured Kent State’s guards into several turnovers. Soon, errant passes into the low post and traveling calls were called on the Golden Flashes. In total, the Bulls forced 25 turnovers and scored 25 points off turnovers.
“When your best players buy in and are the hardest workers, only great things can come from that,” Legette-Jack said.
Even though the Bulls finished with a lower field goal percentage than the Golden Flashes (40 percent to 34.8 percent), the Bulls’ game plan was to force turnovers and limit Kent State’s second chance points. The Bulls grabbed 20 offensive rebounds to Kent State’s seven. Ten different Bulls grabbed at least one offensive rebound.
The Bulls finished with 66 shot attempts to Kent State’s 45.
Moss finished with four points and four steals, while freshman guard Brittany Morrison finished with nine points and 13 rebounds. Smith led the way on offense with 14 points, six rebounds and two steals, while sophomore guard Stephanie Reid finished with seven points, six assists and one steal.
Smith finishes the regular season averaging 18 points and six rebounds per game – leading the team in both categories.
Before the game, two seniors were honored: Moss and former guard Mackenzie Loesing. Lingering ankle injuries, followed by surgery in late 2015, forced Loesing to prematurely retire after her junior season.
“It was something I wanted to do,” Legette-Jack about honoring Loesing. “She was a part of this program and this was supposed to be her year. No doubt in my mind I wanted to give her this moment.”
The Bulls swept the season series against Bowling Green (10-17, 6-12 MAC), defeating it on the road 63-50 on Feb. 13 and claimed a close victory at Alumni Arena, 55-52, on Feb. 24. The winner moves on to Cleveland, Ohio for the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals.
Even if the Bulls defeat the No. 9 seeded Falcons during the play-in game, they will have to face No. 1 seed Ohio (24-5, 16-2 MAC) in the next round. Buffalo defeated Ohio twice in the regular season – the Bobcats’ only two MAC losses.
“If we can defend the way we did today, I think we can really be excited for what we can do next season,” Legette-Jack said.
Monday’s tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
Edward Goldschmid is a sports staff writer. Sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.