Bulls’ ‘D’ leaves the Flashes without a spark
Bulls counter poor shooting with stellar defense to down Kent State
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 16:02
Fans could likely hear head coach Felisha Legette-Jack screaming “hands up” and “next pass” from the last row of any arena. On Wednesday night, her women’s basketball team answered her pleas and embodied this defensive mantra.
The Bulls (15-9, 8-5 Mid-American Conference) forced 29 turnovers in their 61-53 victory over Kent State (5-19, 2-11 MAC) on the road. Buffalo drew fouls and connected from the foul line throughout the contest. Sophomore guard Mackenzie Loesing led all scorers with 15 points while hitting 3 of 7 from beyond the three-point line.
The Bulls were clicking to start the game, as the team took an early 19-9 lead with over 11 minutes to go in the first half. Buffalo kept a steady lead over the Flashes for most of the first half, until a run by Kent State closed the gap to just five points with one minute left in the half.
Loesing took over the final minute, scoring five of her 13 first-half points. The Bulls needed the closing run, as they hadn’t scored in almost four minutes of play until Loesing’s late buckets. Buffalo ended the half up 10 points, leading Kent State 37-27.
The Flashes committed 12 turnovers in the first half compared to Buffalo’s five, with five of the 12 turnovers coming from UB steals.
“Our guards trust each other, so they’re taking chances because they know their teammate is near to have their back,” Legette-Jack said. “We stayed in our zone and we’re not overly taking chances but the ones we do have been pivotal for us.”
The Golden Flashes took their first lead of the game with just over six minutes left to play, 44-43. With Kent State still leading with four minutes left to play, freshman forward Alexus Malone took control of the game.
Malone scored 10 of her 12 points in the final four minutes, as she outscored the entire Kent State team 10-5.
“You’re only allowed to be a freshman up until December,” Legette-Jack said. “She understands her role now, and every day she gets better and more comfortable.”
For the second game in a row, the Bulls needed a comeback to escape with a victory. They have proven that when the game is not going in their favor, giving up is not an option.
The Bulls continued their suffocating defense as they recorded nine steals and created 16 turnovers in the second half. The Bulls did not shoot well from the floor, shooting 28 percent and missing all five attempted 3-pointers in the second half. Their ability to get the free-throw line saved the Bulls. Buffalo shot 12 for 13 from the line in the second, and a season-high 88.2 percent for the game.
Junior center Christa Baccas led the team with six rebounds and two blocks, along with seven points. Sophomore guard Karin Moss provided a spark from the bench as she filled the stat sheet with six points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds.
With only five games left on its schedule, Buffalo remains in fourth place in the MAC. The Bulls have a critical game with conference-leading Bowling Green (22-3, 12-1 MAC) on Saturday at Alumni Arena. Tip is set for 2 p.m.