UB women’s basketball falls at home to Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois defeats Buffalo 89-80
For three quarters, UB women’s basketball (16-7, 6-6) held Northern Illinois (17-6, 10-2) and their No. 3 scoring offense in the country in check.
The Bulls entered the fourth quarter leading 65-60 before the Huskies ripped off 16 consecutive points to start the fourth quarter, opening up a lead they would never relinquish.
The Mid-American Conference West division leading Huskies defeated the Bulls 89-80 Saturday afternoon in front of 1,532 fans at Alumni Arena. The Huskies erupted for 51 points in the second half to spoil a strong first half from the Bulls. The loss is the Bulls third in the last five games. In all three losses, they have allowed 85 or more points.
Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack was critical of her team’s defense following the game.
“I’m really baffled by how bad we play defense from what is being called and how good the other teams are always playing,” Legette-Jack said. “I’m not certain what it’s all about, I’ll watch the film and figure out what really transpired out there. Maybe we’re just a really bad defensive team.”
The Huskies started off red hot, making five of their first seven shots. The Bulls stifling three point defense held Northern Illinois to 22.2 percent from beyond the arc in the first half.
Buffalo made half of their three-pointers in the opening half. Senior guard JoAnna Smith had 18 points in the half and made all four of her three point attempts.
However, Smith was held to just four points in the second half.
Legette-Jack admitted after the game that she should have given her top scorer more touches.
“It definitely disrupted the [offensive] flow,” Legette-Jack said. “Sometimes when others step up the rhythm of the team is challenged.”
Junior forward Courtney Wilkins stepped up – she finished the game with a career high 18 points. Wilkins played 23 minutes off the bench. Wilkins had been averaging only 3.5 points per game on the season prior to the game.
At one point, Smith yelled at Wilkins for passing up an open three-pointer.
“Me and Jo shoot together a lot, so she gets mad when I don’t take shots,” Wilkins said. “We have confidence in each other.”
Junior point guard Stephanie Reid picked up a double-double with 18 points and 12 assists. That marks six times Reid has racked up at least 10 assists in the past 13 games.
Northern Illinois senior guard Ally Lehman, who was averaging a double-double on the season coming into the game, was held to just six points in the first half. The second half it was a different story; she scored 23 in the second half, finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds.
“We didn’t respect her enough I guess, we gotta crowd a kid like her,” Legette-Jack said. “She’s one of my favorite players in the conference. For what she stands for, the fact that she’s willing to fight for our country at the end of her senior year, if one person were to have a great game I want it to be her.”
The Huskies outrebounded the Bulls 49-37, dropping Buffalo’s record to 2-7 when losing the rebound battle.
“This loss is on me. I didn’t do the best coaching job,” Legette-Jack said. “If we can lose this game and learn the lessons, I think we’ll still be in a good position.”
The Bulls will look to get back on track on the road against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Justin Bystrak is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org