Mix one part poor ball handling, a touch of shoddy execution in the transition game, a load problems in breaking the full court press and half court traps, and top it all off with some questionable officiating. Let simmer for 40 minutes.
What do you have? A recipe for disaster.
Despite a strong effort, anchored by Buffalo's (9-7, 1-4 MAC) suffocating defense, the Bulls failed to make the big shots when they needed them the most down the stretch and fell 50-45 to the Miami RedHawks (9-8, 4-2 MAC) Saturday night at Alumni Arena.
"It's frustrating from the standpoint that you look at 1-4 in the MAC and we're not a 1-4 team. We just haven't been able to put our offense and our defense together on the same night," said Buffalo Head Coach Cheryl Dozier. "In the first half, we missed a lot of lay-ups."
After playing a less-than spectacular opening 20 minutes of basketball, which has been a recent trend as of late, the Bulls were looking for a spark, provided by senior guard Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe. After the RedHawks scored the first two buckets of the second half to extend their lead to 10 at 27-17, she decided to take the game into her own hands.
McMeeken-Ruscoe opened the scoring for the Bulls in the second half with a three-pointer that cut the deficit to seven and following two Miami free throws, she went on to score eight straight unanswered points for Buffalo to bring them within a single point at 29-28.
"I felt like Kate came out and took great shots tonight for us and that's an indication of her 21 points," Dozier said. "Where we struggled is we have to get offense from somebody else."
Miami quickly responded with an 8-2 run of their own to push the lead back to seven at 37-30, but Buffalo showed resiliency and crawled back into it, cutting the lead back down to one.
The RedHawks would not be denied on this night, though. They quickly built their lead back up to six, and despite being heavily pressured on both ends of the floor, never relinquished it.
The Bulls' best opportunity to tie the score came after two crucial free throws by Jessica Kochendorfer, which brought the Bulls to within two at 44-42 with 2:57 left. After a missed field goal by Miami on the ensuing possession, Allison Bennett had great penetration to the basket with a well controlled drive, only to see the ball roll out on a unsuccessful lay up try.
Miami quickly converted the opportunity and scored four straight points.
With 31 seconds remaining, Miami missed a huge free throw rebounded by Lawrenson. McMeeken-Ruscoe found Lawrenson on the ensuing possession and the sophomore guard knocked down a three-pointer, cutting Miami's lead to three, 48-45.
Miami was fouled on their next possession after UB could not get the steal, and put the game out of reach hitting two free throws, leaving only 15 seconds on the clock and a five-point deficit for the Bulls.
"Down the stretch the one good thing Miami did was they took the ball strong and when they went to the hole they took it strong and sometimes I think we looked to fake too much," said McMeeken-Ruscoe, who shot 9-15 from the field. "We needed to bang bodies more."
Buffalo came out blazing in the first half and was looking like they might runaway with this contest as they opened up a nice 14-11 lead with 8:11 left in the first half. However, after that point, they seemed to hit a brick wall right in the face as Miami mounted a 12-0 run to build a 23-14 before a stunned crowd of 691.
Buffalo was unable to respond and went into the halfway point trailing 23-17 on 8-26 shooting, including 12 turnovers, and for the second straight game, no free throw attempts.
"You hold a team that's averaging almost 70 points a game to 50 and you hold a MAC player of the year 0-12 from the floor with only five points and as head coach if you told me Miami was only scoring 50 points I would of thought we would have walked away tonight with a W," said Dozier.
The Bulls are in action on Tuesday as they travel to Akron to take on the Zips. Tip-off is at 7. The game will be broadcast on radio WWKB-AM 1520.