UB women's basketball defense struggles in 81-70 loss to Akron

Buffalo's four-game win streak snapped

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It was guaranteed a streak would end on Wednesday night.

The Buffalo women’s basketball team was riding a season-high four-game winning streak, but hadn’t won at the James A. Rhodes Arena since 2011 entering Wednesday night’s game against Akron.

The streak was Bulls didn’t want to end, did.

The Bulls (13-9, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) saw their four-game winning streak snapped against Akron (18-5, 8-4 MAC) 81-70. The 81 points were the most points allowed by Buffalo since Nov. 28 against Tulsa.

“I thought we let the game get away from us a bit,” said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. “Our guards have to do a better job out there on the defensive end, and I thought that was a factor in this game. At this point in the season, it’s about refinement. We’ll go back and watch the tape and see how we can improve on that end.”

In the first half, Buffalo forced Akron into turnovers. The Zips had as many turnovers in the first half as they did in their last game (16) total. Freshman guard Stephanie Reid and sophomore forward Alexus Malone combined for five of the team’s nine first half steals.

“In the first half, we played to our strength and bugged them,” Legette-Jack said. “Nine steals and 16 turnovers, we got extra possessions and forced them to adjust a bit mid-way through the first half.”

Although the Bulls forced a plethora of Akron turnovers in the first half, the Bulls failed to stop Akron from scoring. The Zips went into halftime with 36 points on 51 percent shooting from the floor and 66 percent shooting from the perimeter. Akron guard Hannah Plybon sunk three of the Zips four 3-pointers of the half.

The Bulls got quality looks from beyond the arc, but couldn’t convert. The team went 1 for 11 from three. Malone and junior guard Mackenzie Loesing combined to go 0 for 5 from 3-point range in the first half.

Akron continued their offensive success after halftime with their help of its star guard.

After a quiet first half, MAC-scoring leader senior forward Sina King scored 14 of her 21 points in the second half, hitting 5 of her 7 field goal attempts. She led Akron in scoring as the Zips finished with 45 second half points on 54 percent shooting from the floor and 80 percent from behind the arc in the second half.

“We didn’t play with a ton of passion,” Legette-Jack said. “When we were defending them, we didn’t play with the passion we needed when guarding a good offensive team. When they scored, we froze out there, instead of realizing that they’re going to score, and got back on offense.”

The Bulls failed to connect from beyond the arc in the second half. Buffalo finished the game with a season-low 1-of-24 shooting from 3-point range.

“We were getting those looks for a reason,” Legette-Jack said. “We know we aren’t the best shooting team in the league, and instead of looking for a better shot, we fell into their trap and launched 24 threes. We need to make adjustments on Thursday and Friday for our game on Saturday against Western Michigan.”

Senior forward Kristen Sharkey finished with a team-high 22 points. Senior center Christa Baccas added 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Reid finished with 10 points, three steals and a team-high seven assists.

The loss to Akron drops Buffalo one and a half games behind the Zips for second place in the MAC East. Overall, the Bulls are seventh in the conference, which would not give them a first round bye.

But Legette-Jack isn’t concerned with the tournament just yet.

“Always one game at a time,” Legette-Jack said. “All we have is today, and if we start looking ahead past Western Michigan, then we already loss. For me and for my team, the task at hand is getting a victory over Western Michigan on Saturday.”

The Bulls travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan to face Western Michigan (15-7, 8-3 MAC) on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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