Gannon upsets new-look Bulls
Women’s basketball falls short in first scrimmage
A different look and refreshed attitude under new head coach Felishia Legette-Jack have this year's women basketball team looking for improvement after a disappointing 2011-12 season.
Buffalo hosted Division II Gannon in an exhibition match on Saturday and the Bulls were upset at home after a late run by the visitors, falling by a final score of 63-53. Although the Bulls held a decisive advantage in offensive rebounding and free throw attempts, it was the Golden Knights' defense and timely scoring that made the difference.
With 7:27 left in the game, junior forward Nytor Longar stepped to the free throw line and made one of two attempts, bringing the score to 49-45 Gannon.
Buffalo could not get any closer, as Gannon exploded on a 15-1 run over the next six minutes to push the game out of reach.
Beating Division I teams is nothing new for the Golden Knights. They beat Mid-American Conference team Akron by nine early in the preseason. Gannon is currently ranked in the NCAA Division II Poll.
"This is a nice team," Legette-Jack said. "They are going to be really good. They are ranked 14th in Division II. They have quality players and they are going to be good for a long time."
Gannon's nothing-to-lose mentality and tradition of excellence may have affected the Bulls at the start.
"I thought we came out nervous in the beginning," Legette-Jack said. "In that middle segment of the first half, we showed some good signs that we are young, we are going to be fun and we are going to come after you. In the second half, we played their ranking. We played their culture and we did not play the kids, and that is what was disappointing."
Gannon connected on 8-of-25 3-point attempts, including 4-for-11 in the second half. The final backbreaking three came in the middle of the final run to close out the game. After an offensive rebound, Gannon found Jen Pappich at the top of the key for an open three. It was her second of the day and it stretched the lead to 52-45.
Despite the Golden Knights' hot shooting, the Bulls were aggressive on the defensive end and harassed Gannon's ball handlers with full-court pressure. The result was several errant passes and 12 steals for Buffalo. Nevertheless, Buffalo struggled to convert on scoring opportunities.
"I like the competitive spirit," Legette-Jack said. "But we did not have focused spirit. We have to get better with our focus."
In her first-ever collegiate start, freshman forward Rachael Gregory was locked in. She led all scorers with 17 points. She also pulled down six rebounds and had two assists. Gregory was aggressive with the ball and attacked the rim repeatedly. The results were high-percentage field goal attempts and multiple free throw attempts.
Gregory's individual effort masked Buffalo's struggles from the field and the free throw line. The Bulls missed 14 free throws, going 18-for-32 from the charity stripe. Buffalo shot 26 percent from the field.
A struggling offense is not what Legette-Jack expects from her team, but she is confident her squad will execute better offensively as the year goes on.
"We have some good shooters," Legette-Jack said. "If those shots go in, it is a whole different ball game. But I like the fact that they have confidence enough to take those shots, and I think that those guys that missed those shots, are going to hit those shots during the season."
The Bulls outmuscled the Knights for 25 offensive rebounds.
Buffalo is looking to improve on its 9-22 record of last season. That road will begin in the regular season in hostile territory - against Big Four rival Canisius. Buffalo bested Canisius last season by a score of 62-57. Tipoff for the game on Friday will be at 7 p.m.
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