Bulls defense can’t fend off RedHawks in battle for third place
Christa Baccas (above) and the Bulls were unable to fend off Miami Ohio as they fell victim at home 69-56 in conference play on Wednesday night. Joe Malak /// The Spectrum
The women's basketball team has failed to score more than 57 points in each of its five losses in Mid-American Conference play this season. The Bulls have notched at least 60 in each of their six victories.
On Wednesday night at Alumni Arena, they scored 56 and tacked another loss onto their conference record. Buffalo (8-17, 6-6 MAC) fell 69-56 to Miami Ohio (15-10, 7-5 MAC).
The Bulls defeated Miami in their last meeting and the two teams entered Wednesday's game tied for third place in the MAC East division. The Bulls led early, but Miami answered with a 9-0 run to take the lead with 10:25 left in the half. Buffalo never reclaimed the lead.
"You've got to play with a sense of going after something," said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. "I'm so mad we let this opportunity slip away. It's not about who we play against. You've got to capture that moment. We didn't win either half, but in the first half, our energy was so horrible. We let an opportunity pass us by."
Freshman guard Mackenzie Loesing and junior forward Cherridy Thornton - the team's two leading scorers - were unable to carry a team that struggled offensively all night. The two combined to shoot just 7 for 27 from the field.
"[We struggle offensively] when we fail to play as a team," Loesing said. "I think tonight, we played more individual basketball than we needed to. They had the will to win at moments that were important more than we did and we need to push ourselves harder."
Thornton finished with a team-high 13 points (5 for 17) and Loesing scored 12 (2 for 10). No other Buffalo player reached double figures.
The Bulls shot just 27.6 percent from the field in the first half but trailed by only five at intermission.
Senior guard Nicki Hopkins opened the second half with a 3-pointer, trimming Miami's lead to two. The differential floated between one and five points over the next 10 minutes, as the game went back and forth.
"We didn't lock in defensively to get that stop when the team needed it," Legette-Jack said.
The Bulls trailed 43-41 with 11 minutes remaining before the RedHawks went on another 9-0 run in a span of three minutes. The closest the Bulls came after that was 62-56.
Buffalo was outrebounded 34-28, despite grabbing 10 offensive rebounds in the first half. The Bulls finished the game shooting 36 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers.
RedHawks guard Courtney Osborn - second in the MAC in scoring and third in assists - dominated the second half after scoring just three points in the first. She finished with 19 points and seemed to have an answer every time the Bulls attempted to cut it close.
Her 19 points also put her into first place on Miami's all-time career scoring list.
"When a kid gets 19 points and only had three in the first half, that's that seniority," Legette-Jack said. "That senior says, 'I don't care how I feel. We're going to find a way to wheel our team to success.' I'm really proud of her as a student-athlete and I wish her the best."
Osborn's backcourt mate, Haley Robertson, scored 15 and forward Kirsten Olowinski recorded 14, giving Miami's 'big three' 48 of the team's 69 points.
The Bulls hit the road to take on the Ohio Bobcats (6-18, 1-11 MAC) on Saturday at 2 p.m. On Jan. 13, Buffalo defeated the Bobcats 73-36.
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