UB Bulls edge Golden Flashes 59-57
Buffalo use 13-3 second half run to snag victory over Kent State
The women’s basketball team almost had its biggest upset this season when they played Kent State Wednesday.
But freshman guard Stephanie Reid’s pivotal rebound with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game secured a back-and-forth Bull’s victory and prevented that.
On Wednesday, the Bulls (15-9, 8-5 MAC) narrowly defeated Kent State (4-20, 2-11 MAC) in Alumni Arena. The Bulls forced a season-high 23 turnovers against the Golden Flashes en route to their eighth conference victory of the season.
Despite the Golden Flashes’ MAC record, Bulls head coach Felisha Legette-Jack preached playing Kent State tough and didn’t allow her team to look past them because of their record.
“In February, the records don’t matter,” Legette-Jack said. “No one is better or worse in February. It’s all about resiliency and this team played well tonight. I’m proud of this team and we’re getting it.”
In the first half, the Bulls struggled on the offensive end, shooting just 34 percent from the floor. The Golden Flashes did a great job of double-teaming senior forward Kristen Sharkey, forcing the Bulls to go elsewhere for offensive production.
The team didn’t look any further than junior guard Mackenzie Loesing.
With Buffalo looking for positive production on offense, the Bulls relied heavily on Loesing. And she provided it. Loesing finished with 12 points in the first half, attacking the basket and drawing fouls, en route to leading the team in points scored.
“I saw that my team was struggling energy wise and I saw the opportunity to step up and did it,” Loesing said. “I saw some wide open shots and took them. I’m working on my penetration game, working on getting to the basket, so I attacked early to help us offensively.”
In the beginning of the second half, the Bulls trailed Kent State 33-24. The Golden Flashes entered halftime shooting 51 percent from the field. Kent State did a great job of getting everyone involved offensively, dishing out 13 assists on 14 made field goals.
But the Bulls came out animated on the defensive end in the second half, attacking Kent State’s guards in the backcourt and doubled their frontcourt players when the ball went into the post. As a result, the Bulls forced 12 steals in the second half and 17 in the game’s final 30 minutes alone.
Coach Jack cited a change in the defensive plan at halftime for the team’s success.
“In the first half, we wanted to stretch the defense a bit more, so we went to a 2-2-1 scheme,” Legette-Jack said. “It didn’t work well in the second half, so we began defending and extending pressure 94 feet in the second half.”
The increase in defensive pressure and forced turnovers enabled the Bulls to find another offensive player to operate and lead the offense. After Loesing’s play in the first half, sophomore forward Alexus Malone stepped up for the Bulls.
After a scoreless first half, Malone shot 12 points for the Bulls in the final 20 minutes. She also grabbed five rebounds. Even with her offensive success, Malone credited the defensive pressure and success for her offensive turnaround.
“The intensity changed,” Malone said. “We played defense, believing that the offense will eventually come around. In the first half, we went to what worked for us in Mackenzie, Kristen and Karin. In the second half, my number was called and I contributed.”
Loesing finished with a team-high 19 points, three rebounds and four steals. Junior guard Karin Moss finished with eight points, two rebounds, five assists and a career-high seven steals.
Senior forward Kristen Sharkey – the reigning MAC East and Big 4 Player of the Week – finished with nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
The Bulls will look to push their winning streak to three games on Saturday when they host Miami, Ohio (4-20, 1-12 MAC).
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.