Learning on the fly
Women’s basketball team pulls out narrow victory, drops second game
Freshman forward Rachael Gregory scored with 1.7 seconds remaining to give the Bulls their first victory of the season over Oakland on Friday night. Alexa Strudler /// The Spectrum
Buffalo's young lineup proved to be unafraid of the spotlight. The many unproven underclassmen expected to play major minutes showed Friday night they are ready for the challenge.
The Bulls (1-2) split their first two of a four-game road trip. Buffalo defeated Oakland (2-1) Friday night 61-59 on a game-winning basket from freshman forward Rachael Gregory with 1.7 seconds left. The Bulls were unable to carry the momentum into Wright State (2-1), where they lost 66-51 on Sunday.
Buffalo took a six-point lead into halftime after shooting 40 percent in the first half on Friday night. The Bulls extended their lead to as many as nine in the second half, but the Oakland Golden Grizzlies would not go away in the second half.
The Bulls got a major offensive showing from redshirt sophomore forward Kristen Sharkley, who played 31 minutes, including all 20 of the second half. Sharkley took over with her team trailing by two with just under three minutes to play. She sank four consecutive of her game- and career-high 22 points for the Bulls and put them ahead 59-57 with 1:10 remaining. Following an Oakland basket that tied it up, Gregory's shot secured the victory.
This was Buffalo head coach Felisha Legette-Jack's first victory as Bulls coach.
"I am just so happy for this team to be able to get the win tonight," Legette-Jack said. "We got a lot of contributions tonight and we are going to need everyone to join us in this journey. We will enjoy this tonight and then get ready for Sunday."
While Sharkley dominated the game offensively, sophomore forward Christa Baccas took care of the paint defensively with 15 rebounds and six blocks, both game and career highs.
The Buffalo bench contributed with 23 points, including nine from sophomore guard Sloane Watson. Junior guard Margeaux Gupilan contributed in all facets of the game with five points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Bulls were unable to create their first win streak of the young season when they traveled to Dayton, Ohio to take on Wright State. The Raiders began the game with an 8-0 run and built their lead from there.
Sharkley, the Bulls' leading scorer Friday night, left Sunday's game after six minutes due to injury. Buffalo was unable to fill her void on the court. Gregory led the Bulls with 14 points on 6-for-16 shooting and captured eight total rebounds, six offensive.
Baccas continued her threatening defense, grabbing 14 rebounds along with swatting away three shots and grabbing three steals. She scored a season-high 11 points in 39 minutes.
Wright State outshot Buffalo 45 percent to 30. Thirty of Buffalo's 66 shots came from three-point range, where the Bulls shot just 23 percent. Although the offense struggled, Buffalo's defense forced 19 turnovers.
Buffalo trailed 34-19 at halftime but came out with a different attitude in the second. Although they were unable to pull within single digits, the Bulls finished even with the Raiders in the second half of play, as both teams put up 32 points.
Kim Demmings led the Raiders' offense with 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting, and KC Elkins scored 18. Elkins was 4 for 6 from behind the arc.
The Bulls will return to the court at Dayton (4-0) Friday night in the Marriott Classic. Dayton is coming off a victory against No. 13 Vanderbilt. Tip off is set for p.m.
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