Wings and wows were shared by all in attendance for a dramatic conference showdown at Alumni Arena on Wednesday evening.
In the last matchup of a three-game home stretch, the Bulls (13-12, 6-6 Mid-American Conference) lost a nailbiter against Akron (12-12, 5-7 MAC). An impressive effort from the Zips' bench players led to a 71–67 win over Buffalo on Wing Wednesday.
Junior guard Brittany Hedderson had a career shooting performance in the game, but the result would not match her success. Head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald called a phantom timeout with nine seconds to go right after a game-tying fadeaway shot from behind the arc. The resulting technical foul cost Buffalo the game.
Despite allowing 22 points off of turnovers, the Zips were able to pull off the upset and record their third consecutive win. This was due to the 22-point contribution from Akron's bench. Akron forward Jasmine Mushington led that charge with a team-high of 16 points.
Freshman forward Rachel Bantelman was the only Bull to contribute off of the bench, scoring four points in the contest. Bantelman played some important minutes for Buffalo, most notably when she replaced senior forward Kourtney Brown, who was forced to leave the game with a knee injury.
Hill-MacDonald was not sure if the knee was the same one that Brown injured last season, but she was skeptical of the Zips' aggressiveness toward her star player.
"Every game we go into, Kourtney has a target on her back," Hill-MacDonald said. "They had three people surrounding her, and she got tripped in there. It could have been a devastating injury. I think that sometimes it's accidental, but sometimes you just wonder whether there is not just a little pushing and shoving going on to keep her out of the lane."
Brown and senior forward Jessica Fortman, who combined for 30 points in the game, were the only Bulls in the scoring column until Hedderson connected on a three-pointer from the wing with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. She would hit again from long range and account for Buffalo's only two 3-pointers in the period.
In the second half, Hedderson would hit five more from behind the arc to finish the game with seven 3-pointers, which ties her for third place in school history for threes in a game. She also grabbed six rebounds, including one off of her own miss, which she put back for her only 2-point field goal of the game.
Hill-MacDonald was pleased with Hedderson's performance for the night.
"Brittany was in the right place," Hill-MacDonald said. "Her spacing was good. [Akron] was doubling down on Kourtney and we were able to take advantage of the fact that they were playing loose on Brittany. She needs to step up and knock down her shots because she knows that I have confidence in her to take that shot. Today was a good day for her."
The last time these two teams met, Hedderson scored just nine points when the Bulls defeated the Zips in Akron. She felt her ability to contribute 23 for Buffalo was due to reviewing what she did wrong in their previous meeting.
"I think it really helps, seeing a little bit of the film from the last game against Akron," Hedderson said. "I noticed I was doing a lot of standing and not really setting myself up. I think seeing that helped me to realize that I need to move better off the ball."
This loss is not one that the team can afford to dwell on as the MAC tournament approaches. The Bulls' next stop is at Kent State (16-7, 7-4 MAC) at 2 p.m. this Saturday.