Bulls Look for a Christmas Miracle
Published: Monday, December 6, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
While UB students are getting ready to welcome in the New Year, the women's basketball team will be preparing for one of its toughest challenges of the season.
The Bulls (4-3) are participating in the 14th Annual Lehigh Christmas City Classic, where they are set to play Mississippi State (3-1) in the opening round.
After a tough 2009-10 season in which they finished 7-23 (3-13 Mid-American Conference), Buffalo has come out with a vengeance this season. Four seniors in the starting lineup have been the catalysts to the hot start for the Bulls.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, are coming off a great season in which they made it through a tough Southeastern Conference schedule and lost in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
A key matchup will be between the teams' senior forwards. Kourtney Brown has not only provided the Bulls with points and rebounds, but she has stepped up as a leader this season.
After being named to the preseason All-MAC East team, Brown has not disappointed. She won the MAC East Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 14 and is currently leading the conference in scoring with 22.1 points per game.
However, Mississippi State's Mary Kathryn Govero will be a serious challenge for Brown. The 5-foot-11 forward is coming off her best season in college and is currently third in the SEC in scoring with 16.4 points per game. Govero is also a potent defender, averaging one block and 1.3 steals per game.
The other team invited to participate is Rider (0-5), and the tournament host Lehigh (4-5) rounds out the field.
Lehigh is the defending Patriot League champion and represented the conference in the NCAA tournament last season. The team lost to Iowa State in the first round, but the core of its roster is returning.
The Mountain Hawks are led by senior guard Erica Prosser, who is averaging 12.4 points and 4.8 assists per game thus far this season.
Rider has not gotten off to a good start, but last year's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference All-Rookie team selection Caitlin Bopp continues to improve. The sophomore leads the team in scoring and has been one of the few bright spots for the Broncs this season.
Buffalo will play Mississippi State and Rider will play Lehigh on Dec. 29 to open up the classic. The winners will play each other the following day to decide the champion.
Prior to the tournament, the Bulls will play two rivalry games at home against St. Bonaventure (5-3) and Niagara (1-5). These two matchups will be key for Buffalo, as victories should increase the team's confidence heading into the Classic.
The Bulls have played well against good competition this season but have been unable to pull out victories in the end.
The Christmas City Classic will be a good test for Buffalo and should be an indicator of the team's potential this season.
Opening tip is set for 5 p.m. on Dec. 29 in Stabler Arena.