Crippling Defense Leads to Big Red Beatdown
From the opening tip-off to the final buzzer, it was left pretty clear who the more talented team was - it was just a matter of showing it for 40 minutes. Buffalo managed to settle some early issues on the offensive end and dominated Cornell 61-35 before 648 fans at Alumni Arena on Monday night.
"It's always tough to play a game like this when you're in the middle of your conference season," said Buffalo head coach Cheryl Dozier, who achieved her 70th career win. "We needed to come in tonight mentally focused and ready to close the chapter of our non-conference season."
After playing less than stellar offense in the first half, Buffalo (9-5, 1-2 MAC) came out gunning in the second half and simply put the game away against the hapless Cornell Big Red (6-8, 0-0 Ivy League). The Bulls eased their way inside and put up one high percentage shot after another, and they began to fall as Buffalo shot 50 percent from the field in the second half.
Two separate 9-0 runs early in the second half opened a commanding 44-19 lead. Buffalo would take its largest lead, 31 points at 57-26, on a jumper by Brooke Meunier.
"We had a lot of turnovers (in the first half), and they were pressing us, and we were trying to hurry up and get the ball up the floor on the fast break, and we just had to slow it down and run the plays through a little bit better," said UB forward Jessica Kochendorfer.
Even when the shots did not fall, Buffalo managed to draw the foul and get to the free throw line. The Bulls had 15 attempts in the second half as opposed to a first half in which Buffalo did not attempt a single free throw.
The Bulls starters managed to cut down on the turnovers in the second half and showed a more cohesive style featuring exceptional ball movement.
"If we continue to keep having the balance that we had things are going to be pretty exciting for us later on," said Dozier.
Buffalo opened up a quick 8-0 lead at the start of the game before the Big Red could even blink. However, the inconsistency of the young Buffalo squad was quickly displayed as Cornell finally got on the scoreboard with 14:39 left in the half and went on a 9-0 run of their own.
Buffalo responded with a three pointer by Allison Bennett to give the Bulls an 11-9 lead in which they would continue to build on and never relinquish.
The first half was not the most fundamentally sound segment of basketball as neither team shot particularly well nor took great care of the ball. Buffalo shot a dismal 35 percent from the floor on 10 of 28 field goals and added 13 turnovers.
Cornell was even worse hitting on seven of 27 attempts for a pitiful 26 percent accompanied by 12 turnovers.
For the game, Buffalo out-rebounded the Big Red 44-34 but lost the turnover battle slightly, forcing 23 while committing 24 of their own.
Kochendorfer recorded her fourth double double of the season and also led the Bulls in scoring, finishing with 14 points on 7-11 from the field and adding 10 rebounds. She also had three blocked shots. Erin Lawrenson also finished in double figures, scoring 12 points on 4-6 shooting from behind the arc despite missing her first seven shots.
"It's an issue that I've always had. I've talked to coach about it a couple times, and I have to keep shooting," said Lawrenson. "I have to know I'm not going to make every shot, and I'm certainly not going to miss too many in a row, hopefully. You have to have confidence in your shot or else it won't fall."
Cornell's Lauren Kilduff led all scorers with 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Bulls' next game is at Toledo on Wednesday at 7 p.m.