The Bulls look to defeat Ohio on Wednesday
Women's basketball team game preview
In the women’s basketball team’s 78-68 loss to Miami Ohio on Saturday, Buffalo shot just a little over 40 percent from the field and allowed the last place RedHawks to shoot eight of 10 from beyond the arc.
But the Bulls (15-10, 8-6 Mid-American Conference) will have to overcome a loss from a team that won three of its last 15 games to face a team that has won 13 of its last 15 games.
The Bulls will take on conference-leading Ohio (21-4, 12-2 MAC) on Wednesday at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio in a pivotal conference matchup. If the Bobcats win, they will clinch the No. 1 seed in the MAC East – the seed Buffalo was picked to get by the preseason coaches poll.
Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said there is still a lot of work to be done, but the team is not afraid by the record differential of the RedHawks and the Bobcats.
“We respect all and fear none,” Legette-Jack said. “We’re not going to put Ohio on a pedestal. We’re going to work on ourselves. We’re going to control what we can control. All we can control is our purpose and enthusiasm. If we can do that, we’ll be okay.”
Buffalo currently ranks last in three-point shooting percentage in the conference (.248) after only connecting on one 3-pointer on Saturday. Ohio is No.1 in 3-point shooting (.348) and has a conference-leading 231 3-pointers on the season, an average of 9.2 per game.
Legette-Jack acknowledged the three-point differential, but said she is optimistic that it will not dictate the outcome of the upcoming game.
“There’s a lot of work to be done with the perimeter shot,” Legette-Jack said. “We’re the worst in the conference. But that’s okay. We won six of our last eight games by being the worst in the conference.”
Ohio is ranked second in the conference in total points scored (1766), an average of 70.6 points per game. The Bobcats also rank second in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 56.1 points per game. The team’s +14.6 scoring margin is the biggest differential in the MAC. Buffalo gives up an average of 62 points per game.
The Bulls will have to focus on Ohio guard Kiyanna Black, the reigning MAC East Player of the Week. Black finished with a game-high 31 points while going 10 of 24 from the field in a game on Feb. 21 against Akron. She also leads the conference with 3.1 3-pointers per game.
Buffalo plans to factor their size and defense into defeating the Bobcats. The Bulls are No.2 in the MAC for blocked shots with four per game. Senior forward Christa Baccas is second in the conference in blocked shots per game (2.1) and leads in offensive rebounding (3.7).
Buffalo heads into the matchup with a slight rebounding advantage over Ohio. The team ranks second in the conference with 42.1 rebounds per game, while Ohio grabs 38.4 rebounds per game. It is one of the few categories where the Bulls lead over the Bobcats.
Legette-Jack said the team plans to use this to its advantage.
“We haven’t shot the ball well all season but we can defend,” Legette-Jack said. “We can still win basketball games without shooting the three-point ball. We have to have a sense of urgency, defensively. We can run the floor, hit free throws and make two-pointers. If we can do that, we’ll be okay.”
With four games remaining in conference play, the race for the top spot in the MAC East seems to be coming down between Buffalo, Ohio and Akron. The Bulls are currently in third place with an eight conference wins – one game behind Akron and four games behind the Bobcats. No other team in the MAC East has more than three conference wins.
The Bulls have already clinched the No.3 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament, but could be tied for the No. 2 seed with a win and an Akron loss.
But junior guard Mackenzie Loesing does not count out the other teams in the conference with lower records, especially after last Saturday’s loss to the RedHawks.
“It was a tough loss,” Loesing said. “At this point, any team can beat anyone on any given day. The MAC is wide open for anyone to win it and I think this is our year to do it. We have to learn the lessons from last game, move on and it will make us better.”
Wednesday’s game is set to begin at 7 p.m.