UB’s dream of a Cinderella run is over.
Women’s basketball fell to the Bowling Green Falcons, 80-67, in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Friday afternoon, ending their season and shattering all hopes of an improbable run to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls struggled to get any flow on offense, as sophomore guard Dyaisha Fair and freshman forward Cheyenne McEvans shot a combined 13-of-41 from the field.
Fair recorded her 20th 20-point game of the season and added nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. McEvans recorded her third double-double of the season with 16 points and a career-best 12 rebounds.
Despite the scrappy effort from UB, the hot shooting of the No. 1 seed Falcons was too much to handle for the young Bulls squad.
Led by sophomore guard Elissa Brett, freshman guard Lexi Flemming and senior guard Madisen Parker, Bowling Green shot a blistering 48% from behind the arc.
BGSU’s ball movement was on point, as the Falcons used extra passes to find open shooters. UB’s defensive rotations seemed to be a step slow all game, and it was the contest’s deciding factor.
“We let them get off too many threes,” McEvans said after the game. “We just have to do better with that. We let them get too hot at the start of the game and it just carried on.”
The Bulls’ struggles on the defensive end also carried over to the offensive side of the floor.
UB had open shot opportunities but connected on just 33% of shots from the field and 27% from three-point range.
“We didn't make the shots that were wide open, we tried to look at something that wasn't there, and that's unfortunate because that’s not our story, that’s not how we play,” head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “It’s one of those games when you have your worst game in your last game, [that’s] always something that's unsettling.”
Fair struggled to find her shooting rhythm all game, making just seven of 26 attempts from the floor.
Fair may have struggled in the contest, but Legette-Jack made it clear what she thinks of her team’s leading scorer.
Fair, who experienced five deaths in her family during the season, has remained focused on basketball when her mind should be somewhere else, Legette-Jack says, as she praised her star’s mental fortitude and leadership during an extremely trying season.
“She tried to get out there and give her best effort but her best effort wasn’t as good as her last efforts,” Legette-Jack said. “I want to thank the sophomore for stepping up the way she did, and she’s got a lot more basketball to play but I tell you what, she’s still in my opinion the best player in this conference.”
The loss gave the Bulls their first real opportunity to reflect on the 2020-21 season. The Bulls struggled to find consistency but still ended up securing the fourth seed in the tournament and making it to the semifinal round. The team’s players and coaches say they are proud of the effort and dedication it took to get through this COVID-19-riddled season.
“Everybody just bought in, we were in a foxhole together. Since June we were together, all in one since June,” McEvans said. “We socially distanced, stayed together, we kind of put our outside life on hold just to do what we love, and that’s compete. So I thank my teammates, coaches, everybody for just buying into the common goal.”
The Falcons may have ultimately won by a large margin, but with six seconds remaining in the game and her team down by 13 points, Legette-Jack called a timeout so she could speak to her athletes. In the huddle, she told her players they can’t wait for opportunities to arise, but that they have to seize the moment before anyone else does, something they can build on for the future.
“It wasn’t about the game anymore, it was about us learning lessons through this game,” Legette-Jack said. “We got an opportunity, and somebody else got the job. That is something that we’ll have to sit with for the rest of the summer. The neat thing is you’re in college, you can still have a chance to learn again, but it runs out. If you continue to wait your turn, you’re going to get the blessings that you set out to get, and that’s second [place]. That's not how we play the game, that’s not how we want our young people to leave us in the future.”
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m.