The 3-2 UB Bulls traveled to Pittsburgh today to take on the Panthers of the ACC in perhaps the biggest test on their OOC schedule. The Panthers were 4-2 on the season coming into today while the Bulls are coming off a 68-59 home win against Canisius on Black Friday. The Bulls are now riding a two game winning streak out of the holiday weekend after holding off a late charge from the home team and turning it into a 66-62 victory.
UB lept out to an 10-0 lead to start the game and controlled play for much of the first half. A 12-2 Pittsburgh run brought the home team to within six with just two minutes to play before the break, but the Bulls were able to pull away to a 34-25 halftime lead on the strength on Sloane Walton and Cherridy Thornton. Walton, , netted all of UB's points from beyond the arc en route to nine first-half points, while Thornton in just nine minutes filled up the first half stat sheet with six points and five rebounds.
On the defensive side of the ball, UB held Pittsburgh to only 27% shooting in the first half, and outrebounded the larger Panthers 25-23. This is the ninth time that Coach Jack's team has held an opponent to under 30% shooting before the half.
The Panthers provided some pushback in the second half, but the Bulls managed to maintain a several possession lead throughout, as the second stanza saw both teams do what they could to give the game away: UB with misses from the charity stripe, and Pittsburgh with turnovers. On the game the Bulls were 15-31 from the line, while the Panthers turned the ball over 15 times. Senior Margeaux Gupilan iced the game for good with two free throws to make it 61-55 UB with 25 seconds left, and the team as a whole hit four of their final six shots from the stripe.
The strong win shows what I think we can expect from Coach Legette-Jack's Bulls:
- A smothering defense: Even with increased second half energy, Pitt only shot 35% from the floor
- A short rotation and a team in excellent shape: The Bulls used just a seven-woman rotation for the entire game
- Spread the wealth: All seven players scored at least two points in the first half, four scored in double digits, and all above five for the game, while another four Bulls had seven or more rebounds
- Force the opponent into one dimension: Only three Panthers scored in double digits; and the Panthers rarely got "second chance" possessions, as UB had a +8 advantage on the boards, and got the free throw line 29 times to Pittsburgh's 19
"To come in here and get a victory is a big thing for the State of New York." -- Assistant Coach Ashley Zuber on 1270 The Fan's Postgame coverage.