Regular season ready
Exhibition games are meant to test a team's offseason preparation. They also determine if teams are ready to get their seasons started.
The women's basketball more than doubled their opponent's score in its first contest of the year. Buffalo won nearly all of the statistical battles and got every player involved.
Simply put, the team looked ready.
Dominating in nearly every statistical category, Buffalo rolled over Mercyhurst College, 76-35, in its Thursday exhibition game at Alumni Arena.
The Bulls came out rolling, opening on a 16-5 run and shooting 70 percent from the field in the game's first nine minutes. Mercyhurst head coach Deanna Richard abruptly jumped up from her bench with 11:23 remaining in the first half and called a timeout in attempt to stop the onslaught, but Buffalo's aggressive attack continued.
Buffalo continued its impressive performance and put together a 17-2 run that lasted over five minutes long. The run was sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from freshmen guard Nikki Hopkins. Sophomore guard Brittany Hedderson followed Hopkins' lead two back-to-back 3-pointers of her own, extending the Bulls lead to 23, 30-7.
Buffalo never looked back, piecing together a true team win with balanced play from all fourteen players. Twelve Bulls scored in the game and almost everyone played even minutes.
'We got balanced scoring,' said head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald. 'We got to play everybody which was good. We got good minutes from one through fourteen tonight so I'm real pleased with that.'
Buffalo remained in control for the entire game, dominating Mercyhurst in nearly every statistical category. The Bulls outshot the Lakers 47 percent to 25 percent and shot 50 percent in the second half. Buffalo also dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Lakers 46 to 26. The Bulls' stingy defense forced the Lakers to commit 31 team turnovers, leading to 25 of the Bulls 76 points.
Hedderson finished with a team-leading 18 points and added six assists, three rebounds, one block, and a steal. She showed off her shot in the process, shooting 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
Junior forward Kourtney Brown also contributed and played her usual game. In limited minutes, Brown finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, and three steals while shooting 67 percent from the field.
'Kourtney's just Kourtney,' Hill-MacDonald said. 'What you saw on the court tonight in terms of her focus and intensity is what she brings to every practice, every drill, and every time she steps out to play. She is really a special player and we are extremely excited to have her here at Buffalo.'
Some Buffalo freshmen also contributed in their first game. Freshman guard Chrissy Cooper, the Bulls' starting shooting guard, recorded three points, two rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in only 20 minutes of play. Freshman guard Abby Dowd finished with three points and six rebounds while seemingly finding her open teammates at nearly every opportunity she had.
'She made some great passes,' Hill-MacDonald said. 'She made some really nice passes to her teammates that didn't necessarily result in baskets. I was really impressed on how well she was able to find her teammates on the floor tonight.'
Other Buffalo newcomers stepped up for the Bulls as well. Freshman guard Nikki Hopkins provided an offensive spark off the bench, finishing with eight points, and freshman forward Nytor Longar added seven points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes of action.
Although Buffalo is satisfied with its win against Mercyhurst College, their ultimate team goal remains clear, yet unsatisfied.
'We want a MAC championship,' Hedderson said. 'The players on our team have worked so hard in the offseason. We were in the gym every day. We did what we had to do and I'm just glad that it finally showed tonight. We'll just keep pushing through, one game at a time, until we reach our goal as a team.'
The Bulls continue to pursue their goal when they begin regular season play at Niagara University on Nov. 13. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.