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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Second-Half Power Outage Costs Bulls Second Straight Loss

While power was restored to almost all of the 100,000 Western New York homes by 8 p.m. Saturday night, that is exactly the time when someone pulled the plug at Alumni Arena.

How else can you explain the women's basketball team squandering an 18-point first-half lead against Bowling Green?

For the second game in a row the Bulls came out in the first half with an explosive offense and a solid defense on the other end. Their first-half performance, however, did not spill over into the second, allowing the Bowling Green Falcons to pick up their first road MAC victory of the season, tallying a final score of 69-65.

"It was a tale of two halves," said UB Head Coach Cheryl Dozier. "It was a great first half, but we came out flat, unemotional, and without defensive stops in the second half."

UB (9-12, 4-6 MAC) had an 18-point advantage over Bowling Green (7-14, 4-6 MAC) with 3:19 to go in the first half. But the Falcons chipped away at UB's lead, and the score at the half was 42-30, with Buffalo still on top.

The Bulls came out sloppily in the second half and Dozier, with less than two minutes gone off the clock, took a timeout.

A jumper from just inside the arc by BGSU's Lindsay Austin cut UB's lead down to six. Two foul shots by the Falcon's Kim Griech whittled Buffalo's lead to three. And after a beautiful bank shot by UB's Jessica Kochendorfer, Griech raced down the court and got fouled attempting a three-pointer.

With 15:04 to play in the second half, Griech hit all three foul shots, leaving UB to hold on to a 46-44 lead.

The Bulls looked as if they were ready to pull away again, going on a 6-0 run including four-straight free throws by Kochendorfer and a jumper at the foul line by Talia Merlino. Bowling Green, however, responded with a small run of their own and after a three-point shot by Stefanie Wenzel with 9:43 to go in the game, the score was knotted at 54.

Another three-point field goal by Wenzel gave Bowling Green its first lead of the second half, making the score 57-54.

Moments later, and with UB now down by six, Virginia Jennings, who had a terrific game with 16 points and 8 assists, brought UB within three with a deep three-point shot.

With 4:20 to go in the game, UB forced a Bowling Green turnover and Jennings - cool, calm and collected - drove down the left side of the lane, getting the bucket and the foul. After completing the three-point play the Bulls regained the lead to make it 63-62.

Buffalo, unfortunately, would lose this lead the next possession thanks to the fingertips of a Griech as she hit yet another three-pointer and would fail to regain it.

"It's hard to defend when you have to guard three to four three-point shooters," said Jennings.

Buffalo recorded only two field goals in the last 11 minutes, both by Jennings. The Bulls had trouble getting the ball in to Kochendorfer, who had career-high 22 points, down the stretch.

UB guard Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe offered no excuses.

"We really can't continue to use our youth as an excuse anymore," said McMeeken-Ruscoe, who almost had a triple double with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. "If it came down to a last minute play, maybe we can use that excuse but it was the whole second half."

The Bulls were without two of their starters of the game. Already with freshman Erin Lawerenson on crutches, forward Kim Kilpela left the game with an injury before the second minute had elapsed.

Bowling Green celebrated their win, dancing in the middle of the court, almost forgetting Buffalo's players who were lined up waiting to shake hands with them.

McMeeken-Ruscoe made sure not to give the Falcons too much respect.

"It's really frustrating because we really wanted this game and they shouldn't have beaten us at their place and they shouldn't have beaten us here," said McMeeken-Ruscoe.

Bowling Green's Wenzel finished with a team high 21 points, going 5-8 from behind the arc. Wenzel had the same type of performance early in January when UB fell to the Falcons by two.

Dozier, who did not speak after the game due to illness, e-mailed her comments to the Athletic Communications Department. The coach also offered no excuses, saying the game came down to heart, rather than match-ups or injuries.

"Bowling Green wanted the game more, just like when we were at their place," said Dozier. "We need to find a way to win and stop finding ways to lose."

The Bulls will try to find a way to win on Tuesday, when they travel to take on MAC opponent Western Michigan at 7 p.m.



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