Bulls beat Miami Ohio to remain top-four seed

Buffalo’s nine MAC wins are most since 2002-03

By JEFF PLACITO
On March 2, 2014

  • Junior forward Kristen Sharkey led the Bulls with 22 points and 14 rebounds in the team’s 74-61 win over Miami Ohio Saturday. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum

With two games left to play, the women's basketball team captured a crucial win to remain in fourth place in the Mid-American Conference standings on Saturday afternoon.

The Bulls (16-11, 9-7 MAC) defeated Miami Ohio (7-20, 3-13 MAC), 74-61, in Oxford, Ohio. The win keeps Buffalo in fourth place in the MAC. The nine wins in the MAC are most the Bulls have had since the 2002-03 season.

Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack was not impressed by the way her team had played in its previous game, an 83-71 loss at Ohio (9-17, 4-11 MAC) Feb. 27, claiming that it had been "an interesting 48 hours" since then.

Legette-Jack said the team got back to playing its style of basketball Saturday by controlling the defense and tempo of the game. The Bulls held Miami Ohio to just 37.5 percent shooting from the field, including just 3 for 20 from beyond the arc.            

"We are a blue collar team," Legette-Jack said. "We fight for all the hard stuff through defense. Our defense is going to create our offense so when we are blessed with the opportunity to score, we take the open shots."

Buffalo led by 15 at halftime, but the RedHawks were able to cut the lead to four with just under six minutes remaining in the game.

In the last meeting between these two teams Jan. 30, Buffalo needed a last-second bucket to clinch a 58-56 win. Buffalo used free throws to separate itself at the end of the game Saturday.

Junior forward Kristen Sharkey was the driving force for the Bulls down the stretch. Sharkey sank eight straight free throws in the final five minutes. She finished the game with 22 points - 18 of which came in the second half - and 14 rebounds. She also went 10 for 11 from the foul line in the second half.

The Bulls held a 17-13 advantage with 13 minutes left in the first half when sophomore guard Mackenzie Loesing hit a 3-pointer, which kicked off a 21-6 run for the Bulls over the next 11 minutes of the game that gave them a 38-19 lead. The RedHawks cut their deficit to 41-26 by halftime.

An early second-half run by Miami Ohio shrunk Buffalo's lead to 45-34 with 16:45 remaining, causing Legette-Jack to call a timeout. This stoppage seemed to rejuvenate the Bulls, as they scored six unanswered points.

Legette-Jack praised her team for performing as a unit rather than as individual players. She believes her team's success against the RedHawks can be attributed to their practice the day before.

"Yesterday we had fun in practice, and today we had fun in the game," Legette-Jack said. "The results show you can play this game at a high level and still have fun."

Senior Margeaux Gupilan had a game-high nine assists and added six points and four rebounds. Loesing was the team's second-leading scorer with 19 points, 15 of which came in the first half.

The Bulls have just two games remaining in the regular season, both of which will be at Alumni Arena. Buffalo will take on Akron (18-8, 12-3 MAC) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Akron currently sits at third overall in the conference and holds a three-game lead in the win column over the Bulls in the MAC East.

 

email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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