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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Bulls Fall Short to Long Ball

Wednesday afternoon, a very promising season came to an end as the opponent's 3-point shooting once again subdued the women's basketball team.

Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio was the site where guard Shonda Long of Central Michigan (20-9,11-5 Mid-American Conference) tied a MAC Tournament single-game record with seven 3-pointers against the Bulls (16-15, 8-8 MAC). Long exploded for 40 points in the Quarterfinals to push the Chippewas past the Bulls by the score of 90-69.

With the season ending, so too did the careers of four seniors. Forwards Kourtney Brown, Jessica Fortman, and Bridgette Kendricks, and guard Ashley Zuber fought fiercely, but had no answer for CMU's precision outside shooting.

The loss comes shortly after Brown was named MAC Player of the Year. Brown totaled 15 rebounds and also holds the conference record for most in a season with 367.

The Chippewas missed their first six attempts from long range but finished the half 7-for-15. Bulls turnovers accounted for 17 of CMU's first half points. Buffalo's inability to convert in the paint against its counterpart's defense prevented its offense from developing a rhythm. CMU dictated the game and led at halftime by a score of 47-31.

Brown was faced with multiple defenders as usual and had just nine of her team-high 24 points in the first half.

"[CMU] really focused on double and triple-teams in the post," Brown said. "Even before I caught the ball, they were sagging in and packing in the key. It's only frustrating when I miss layups, but other than that, you get used to the doubles and triples."

The last time the teams met, Buffalo outlasted CMU in a shootout. In that game, the Chippewas were 46 percent on 3-point attempts and Long scored a then-career high 29 points. Long far surpassed her accomplishments in Wednesday's rematch. Head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald applauded her performance.

"We tried to go and deny [Long] the ball and just keep it out of her hands," Hill-MacDonald said. "She was finding ways to get loose anyway. She played a spectacular game from an offensive standpoint. [CMU] has probably never had a player go off like that with such consistency from half to half, and we didn't have an answer."

Trailing by 15, the Bulls trimmed the margin to 11 points early in the second half after a layup by Kendricks. She added eight points and pulled down nine rebounds for Buffalo in the contest. Fortman was not far behind in the comeback attempt with eight rebounds to compliment her five points on the day.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, the Chippewas were able to thwart the Bulls' comeback attempt. CMU pushed the lead up to as much as 25 points in the second period and never gave Buffalo another chance to come back.

Zuber finished with 13 points for Buffalo, despite starting on the bench in the opening moments of the second half due to foul trouble. She also recorded seven assists to capture the Bulls' single-season assists record with 190 in her final campaign.

In retrospect, Hill-MacDonald is very grateful for this year's special group of players, and feels confident about the future of the program in spite of the departure of its best senior class ever.

"I'm really proud of this team and the effort that they have given all year long," Hill-MacDonald said. "Our seniors have been such strong leaders and ambassadors and have set an incredible example for the underclassmen. I'm going to miss [the seniors], especially [Brown and Zuber]. I'm so very proud of all that they have accomplished and how far they have helped bring this program. If I could have them for another 10 years, that would make me very happy, but it's time for them to move on and for the underclassmen to pick up the reins."

E-mail: sports@ubspectrum.com


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