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Buffalo Bulls Women's Basketball: UB tops St. Francis, 88-80, Monday night

I wouldn't blame you for being frustrated with a 45-43 halftime lead (I was), but the UB Women's basketball built a lead that swelled as large at 17 in the second half on their way to an 88-80 road victory against St. Francis (PA) tonight.

UB Athletics

Now that I write this well after the conclusion of the men's game, it's easy to look at both as strong second-half performances that helped UB run away from their road opponent. But the women's game, starting and ending an hour earlier, was a more complete UB effort in this writer's opinion.

Against any opponent from the Northeast Conference, the Bulls should be dissatisfied with just a two point lead at the half. Through the first twenty minutes UB either struggled to close a St. Francis lead or let the Red Flash close a deficit themselves.

From then, though, UB outplayed their hosts for the full second half, building on some encouraging signs from the first stanza:

At the half: Mackenzie Loesing 16 points, 1 foul. At the end of the game, Loesing had racked up 26 points, leading all scorers. Though she did foul out with a few minutes left in the game, I'm less willing to point to that as a negative than I might usually be: other than Camera Miley, the Bulls got no help from other guards.

Make no mistake: Loesing should be able to play 30 minutes without fouling out if she's to be a top-echelon MAC guard, but Joanna Smith was only effective for about four of her 11 minutes today, and Katherine and Liisa Ups combined for two rebounds and zero points in eleven minutes. Coach Jack seems more willing to use a deep bench than to change her team's foul-heavy style and will need more from Smith and the Upses

Miley, for her efforts, had a great day: 10 points, 5 boards, 5 steals, and 3 assists. 5 turnovers, too, but with a line like that I can't complain too much.

At the Half: UB 10-15 from the line, SFU only attempted 7 FTs. UB finished the game 29-41 from the line, while the Red Flash were 12-18. That's a pretty similar shooting percentage from the line, but is a nice departure from the Coach Jack teams of the last year and change. We'll see which game - Siena or tonight - is closer to UB's yearlong play.

At the Half: Other than Loesing, Sharkey, Gregory, Baccas, and Miley all had six points. I was cranky at the half because of the slim two-point lead and the consistent runs from the Red Flash. But you don't get to 45 points without a lot of scoring, and UB had four players at six points in addition to Loesing.

I told you above that Loesing finished with 26 points. The rest of the team would continue to pour in the points, and Sharkey, Gregory, Baccas, and Miley were joined by a strong second half from Alexus Malone to give UB fully six players in double digits. Sharkey had 18 while everyone else was at 10 or 11, but that's good. When you get 102 possessions, that's going to happen, and I like it.

At the Half: Baccas and Sharkey lead UB with 5 boards apiece; UB outrebounding SFU 33-24; UB 12 offensive boards. This is the loaded frontcourt we expected for this season and didn't see against Siena. UB's advantage was undone in part by lots and lots of turnovers - more on that in a moment - but they cleaned up the glass like they should against most teams.

At the end of the game, FOUR Bulls had double-digit rebounds (on their way to FOUR double-doubles), UB destroyed their opponents on the glass 69-46, and pulled down 21 possession-extending offensive boards.

To add, some less-than-encouraging first half signs that also bore fruit:

At the Half: Loesing 3-5 from three, all others 0-4. That pretty much says it all, and in the second half if only got marginally better: Loesing hit one more on two attempts, and Christa Baccas knocked one down. All in all, UB was 5-16 from the arc. Not hideous, especially given Loesing's threes kept UB in the game in the first half, but there's room for improvement.

At the Half: 11 turnovers. At the end of the game: 29. Barf.

That's pretty much everything I want to say about today. I'm very happy with the game after being relatively upset at the break. UB moves to 1-1 and, after staying at least one night in Pennsylvania, will return home to play Niagara in Alumni Arena Saturday at 2:00.

If Niagara ever gets off the 90.