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Bulls win despite lowest-scoring first half of the season

Loesing, Malone put on impressive performances

Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014 19:02

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Chad Cooper, The Spectrum

Alexus Malone had a career-best 16 rebounds in Buffalo’s 55-43 victory. The Bulls have won six of their last seven games.

Women’s basketball head coach Felisha Legtte-Jack proclaimed, “It’s better to win ugly than lose pretty,” following the Bulls’ Thursday afternoon win over Ohio.

The Bulls (13-8, 6-4 Mid-American Conference) defeated the Bobcats (8-13, 3-7 MAC), 55-43, in a Thursday matinee at Alumni Arena. Sophomore guard Mackenzie Loesing led all scorers with 18 points and freshman Alexus Malone had a career-best 16 rebounds along with eight points.

Buffalo began the game with a sluggish offensive start – including only two points over a 10-minute span – and trailed 20-18 after the first half. The Bulls shot only 30 percent from the field and didn’t hit a single 3-pointer. It was the team’s first noon game since November.

“No excuses, but it’s definitely a different experience for our team,” Loesing said about playing early in the day. “I think our energy was just wrong coming out in the first half and I think we were able to figure that out in the second half.”

The Bulls nearly scored as many points in the final four minutes of the first half as they did in the opening 16. Buffalo started the game hitting just 5 of its first 22 shots, but finished the first half hitting 4 of 8. The offense scored only 10 points in the opening 16 minutes.

The ‘D’ kept the Bulls in the game through the first 20 minutes – as it’s had to do other times this season. The Bobcats shot just 1 for 11 from behind the arc and 27.6 percent total in the first half.

“We have not had a game where we were so ugly like this or couldn’t manage our rhythm,” Legette-Jack said. “To be able to play a game like this and still have success, it shows that we are really growing up as a team.”

Buffalo’s 18 first-half points were the lowest of the season and its 55 total points were the lowest since Jan. 15. Legette-Jack said the Bulls need to take a long look at the film to find out how Ohio was so effective at disrupting the offense.

“They forced our hand,” Legette-Jack said. “We had to come out of our matchup and the game was going way too slow. It was like watching paint dry.”

The Bulls came out with a 14-5 run to begin the second half. The Bobcats rallied back and took a one-point lead with 4:23 remaining in the contest. On the following possession, Malone found junior forward Christa Baccas cutting to the basket for a lay-up to retake the lead. Buffalo did not trail for the remainder of the contest.

Loesing followed an Ohio shot clock violation with the team’s first 3-pointer of the afternoon. She then hit 1 of 2 foul shots on the next possession and blocked a Bobcat three-point attempt on defense.

“I think that’s one of our strengths this season is our ability to stay calm even when the game gets tight,” Loesing said. “I think that shows how mature our team is becoming.”

Malone recorded all eight of her points and 12 of her 16 rebounds in the second half. She believes this game will help her as conference play unwinds.

“This just gives me more confidence to keep moving forward and I know we are going to face tougher teams,” Malone said.

The loss marks Ohio’s seventh straight after winning its first three conference games.

Buffalo has won six of its last seven games and travels to Central Michigan (13-8, 9-0 MAC) on Sunday. Tip is set for 2 p.m.

 

email: sports@ubspectrum.com

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