Bulls move into first-place tie in MAC East
Ohio native Loesing hands Miami second home loss of season
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 18:01
With six of its next eight games on the road, the women’s basketball team wasted no time accepting the challenge. Buffalo capitalized on an opportunity to earn a share of first place in the Mid-American Conference East division on Thursday afternoon.
The Bulls (7-13, 5-2 MAC) overcame a 13-point deficit late in the first half to defeat Miami Ohio (13-7, 5-2 MAC), 78-70.
The victory marks the second straight for Buffalo and ends the Red Hawks’ five-game win streak. It was only the second home loss of the season for Miami.
After going down 30-17 with six minutes left, just when it looked like the game could get out of hand, the Bulls capped off the half with a 17-6 run and pulled within two heading into halftime.
“It’s a young team trying to mature,” said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. “We don’t see deficits. We just look to get better on play-by-play possessions.”
The Bulls had one of their best offensive performances of the season, shooting a season-high 46.6 percent from the field and scoring a season-high 78 points. Their offensive assault came against a defense that had allowed only 52.5 points per game in conference play entering the game.
“It is always about the next moment,” Legette-Jack said. “We just concentrate on getting better as a family and trusting each other more every single day. If we start thinking about who we play and how good they are, it can psych us out.”
The Bulls shot 11 of 24 from behind the arc and finished with double-digit three-point field goals for just the second time this season. Sophomore guard Sloane Walton led the attack from deep, tying her career high with five 3-pointers.
Walton’s inclination to fire from the behind the arc came when freshman guard Mackenzie Loesing went down with a knee injury early in the game, though Loesing returned later in the half.
“When one of our kids went down, we had to rely on someone off the bench to be ready,” Legette-Jack said. “What I love about Sloane is she is always ready. You never know when your time will be called, and she came in and looked for her own shot. It was a blessing to see her get the result with how hard she works at practice.”
The second half was a back-and-forth battle through the first 18 minutes, including five lead changes and seven ties, with the largest lead for either team being a slim four points.
Then the Bulls’ attack took over.
Led by Loesing, the Bulls went on a 9-2 run to close out the final 2:18. Loesing had five of the Bulls’ final nine points, including a three-point play with one minute remaining to give her squad a seven-point lead.
“I’m telling you, we need to give our trainer a raise,” Legette-Jack said. “[Loesing] was in a panic after seeing her teammate [Rachael Gregory, who recently suffered an ACL tear] suffer a knee injury and the trainer helped keep her calm and give her the confidence to return.”
Loesing’s final stat line consisted of a team-leading 19 points (7 of 9 from the free-throw line), six rebounds and three assists.
Junior guard Margeaux Gupilan struggled and had six turnovers in the first half. She bounced back to finish with 13 points and seven assists. She did not turn the ball over once in the second half.
Buffalo had its hands full against the MAC East Player of the Week, forward Kristen Olowinski. Olowinski is averaging a double-double on the season, and she kept those numbers on par against the Bulls by scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Olowinski is a part of the “Big 3” of Miami, which includes Courtney Osborn (13 points) and Hannah Robertson (18 points). The three combined for 28 of the Red Hawks’ 36 first-half points, but the Buffalo defense held the three to 19 in the second half.
“It’s about being honest about what we do,” Legette-Jack said. “We had to make adjustments and put players into positions to have success.”
The Bulls cannot unpack their suitcases yet, as they travel to Akron (12-7, 3-3 MAC) for a game on Saturday. Game time is set for 2 p.m.