Women's Basketball: Buffalo - Central Michigan Instant Reactions

Mackenzie Loesing got a shot at MAC-leading CMU today after missing the first matchup due to injury. - UB Athletics

UB got its second shot at MAC-leading Central Michigan Sunday afternoon, ultimately falling 74 - 63 after a tight first half on the road.

Shorthanded on the afternoon, the Women's Basketball team followed up the Men's Saturday win in McGuirk Arena with ____

Instant Reactions below:

First Half

Short Rotation - UB has been playing through this season with a number of injuries, and it really piled up today, as the Bulls came into Mount Pleasant with only nine available players. One of the hallmarks of UB's team this year has been their defense and conditioning, but that would be put to the test today against the MAC's top team in Central Michigan, which has regularly eclipsed 80 points in a game this season.

Indeed, the Chippewas pushed the pace early on, as the two teams traded 8-0 runs to start the game, and it was already 11-10 CMU at the first media timeout. UB wouldn't bring in their first sub until Jenna Rickan entered the game at the under-8 timeout.

Return of Loesing - Part of the reason that UB spent the first half of conference play in 2014 digging out of an 0-3 start was due to the concussion suffered by Sophomore Mackenzie Loesing. While Loesing was not the only contributor early for the Bulls, her 4th point made it 18-17 as UB shot over 40% from the floor in the first ten minutes despite no outside threat, and her 6 boards early helped keep UB in the game

Three Point Shooting - CMU's early pace-pushing was aided by their three point shooting, as they attempted 11 quick threes, hitting four en route to their first 17 points. Compared to UB's 0-11 start, those four makes were significant early on. When UB finally did hit a three courtesy of Karin Moss, CMU came right back and hit their first in over ten minutes to reclaim a 31-28 lead.

Fouls - A common theme in UB's conference losses this winter has been the pace at which the stronger MAC teams play, and UB's tendency to level that out with fouls. Combined with the new 10-second rule in Women's Hoops this year, UB's fortunes seem to rise and fall with how well they handle pace. Look no further than the last few minutes of the first half against Akron to see how quickly fouls can change the momentum. While UB was able to keep the score tight on the scoreboard into the middle of the first half, CMU got into the bonus with  couple of minutes left and immediately turned the screws on the Bulls.

The Chips were 7-13 from the stripe in the first half, while UB only made 3-4 shots as CMU had fouls to spare in the final minute. Heading into the half, three Bulls players - Rickan, Gupilan, and Malone - were sitting on two fouls.

A late Loesing-fueling run closed the CMU difference to 40-37, as UB was unable to slow down the Chippewas, but was able to keep pace despite playing from behind for much of the half. Additionally, likely MAC Player of the Year, fresh off another triple-double, had ten points and six boards, but never seemed to control the game like she has at other times this season.

At the Half: Loesing 10p, 8r, 3a; Sharkey 13p, 5r

Second Half

Tough Start - There's not much to say about the first eight minutes or so of the second half. CMU showed why they're the best in the MAC and entertained the home crowd building a 53-43 lead on the basis or strong rebounding and more UB fouls. Kristen Sharkey broke a 4+ minute drought with a score around the 11 minute mark, but CMU already had seized momentum.

Depth issues - Though UB was keeping CMU within ten after the halfway point of the second, it felt more on the basis of strong defense rather than an O that was able to trade punches. At this point Mackenzie Loesing still hadn't scored in the half. Quite simply, UB was unable to find points as CMU continued to hold a lead and was content to choke time away and let the Bulls shoot just 4-23 in the first 15 minutes of the half.

While UB was able to put a charge into the game in the first half, it was apparent that nothing short of 40 minutes of full strength Buffalo would compete with all of CMU's weapons this season. Between the first game without Loesing, and this afternoon without needed bench depth, UB just never got that chance against the MAC's best.

Central Michigan boasted four double-digit scorers in the victory. UB was led by Kristen Sharkey's 19 points and Christa Baccas' double-double.

UB next plays on Saturday at 12 noon, hosting the Northern Illinois Huskies in the annual Pink Day Game. Not that any of us need an excuse.

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