With 10 players returning from last year's roster, the women's basketball team hopes to improve after a 7-23 season.
Senior forward Kourtney Brown led the way in the first two games. Despite splitting its first two contests, Buffalo (1-1) did not disappoint with its collective effort.
Buffalo started off its season impressively as the team routed the Howard Bison (0-1) 86-53 on Friday night at Alumni Arena. Monday night's game was a much more difficult test as the Bulls lost a tough game at home to the Cleveland State Vikings (2-0) with a score of 78-69.
Friday night's first half was closer than the final score indicates. Only up seven points at halftime, Buffalo needed to slow down Howard guard Tamoria Holmes, who finished the first half with 14 points.
Head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald made a defensive switch during the break and put senior forward Bridgette Kendricks on Holmes. It proved to be a game-changing decision as Holmes only scored three second half points.
"Bridgette just played shut down defense," Hill-MacDonald said. "She is an intense defender and completely rattled Holmes and took her out of the game."
The Bulls defense and second half adjustments turned the game into a blowout. Defensive plays were converted into easy buckets, and Buffalo's field goal percentage improved from 37 percent to 56 percent in the second half.
Senior forward Kourtney Brown led the way for the Bulls with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Brown's presence in the key also made it very difficult for the Bison to have any success down low.
Hill-MacDonald had nothing but compliments to say about Brown.
"Kourtney is such a brilliant player," Hill-MacDonald said. "She shot 66 percent from the field and 100 percent from the free throw line."
Though Brown shined, everyone contributed for Buffalo on Friday. Twenty-three of the 29 field goals the Bulls recorded came off assists.
Monday was a different story as a career-high 34 points for Brown and an 8-0 run to start to the game were not enough to secure a victory for Buffalo.
In a game of runs, it looked like the Bulls were ready to make a push as they eliminated a large Cleveland State lead and tied the game at 56-56 with 7:38 left in the game.
But Cleveland State responded with a 10-0 run to regain the lead and momentum.
Shawnita Garland finished with 18 points, 13 of which came in the last eight minutes of the game.
Hill-MacDonald was not disappointed by the effort put forth by the Bulls.
"The girls tried hard, but the other team made some key shots and just got it done better than we did," Hill-MacDonald said.
Despite the loss, Brown put up heroic numbers. In addition to scoring 34 points, she grabbed 16 rebounds and tied another career high with 11 offensive boards.
"We just couldn't get it done at the defensive end," Brown said. "They were making shots and we weren't playing good enough defense to hold them."
The Bulls were unable to duplicate their performance from the season opener, especially when it came to taking care of the basketball. Twelve first half turnovers contributed to Buffalo's early struggles, and the team shot a tumultuous 1-for-17 from 3-point range.
The Bulls now travel to Temple on Friday to take on the Owls in another non-conference matchup. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.