After a two game skid knocked the Bulls from a bye into a three way mess for the 4 spot, UB traveled to Miami Saturday looking to regain their momentum heading into the last week of the regular season.
Thanks to a big bounce-back game from sophomore Mackenzie Loesing and a star performance from forward Kristen Sharkey, the Bulls defeated the Redhawks 74-61 to move to 9-7 in the conference and keep their hopes of a tournament bye alive.
Loesing would finish the game with 19 points despite shooting just 3 for 12 from beyond the three point arc, and Sharkey would score 21 on the strength of 10 made free throws and 6-8 shooting while also adding helping out with a game-high 13 rebounds. Every other Bull who saw the floor got at least one bucket but this afternoon is was Loesing and Sharkey carrying the load.
From a team perspective, UB wasn't really outplayed in any facet by the Redhawks, despite weathering a Miami run in the second half that cut a 14 point halftime lead down to four with six minutes to play. Eight of Sharkey's free throws came from that point on to help UB maintain the lead and secure the win.
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At 9-7, Buffalo has won the most games in MAC play since the 2002-2003 season, and their sixteen wins overall are also a high point over the last decade and guarantee a winning record when all is said and done.
The win temporarily gives the Bulls a half game advantage in the race for the final tournament bye. The only other women's game today was between Western Michigan and Ball State, and the rest of the conference will play their 16th game tomorrow. Western Michigan, whose victory over Toledo on Thursday created a three way tie at 8-7 that pushed the Bulls out of a bye, lost to the Cardinals to fall to 8-8.
As a result, regardless of the Toledo result tomorrow, UB will head out of the weekend holding onto the last bye. If the Rockets lose to Central Michigan (likely), then UB alone will hold the #4 slot. If Toledo pulls off the upset, UB will maintain the last bye on the tiebreakers.
UB's next game is a home matchup Wednesday against Akron, in a game with huge seeding implications. UB controls their own destiny for a bye with two games remaining, but a second loss on the season to the Zips will bring things even tighter between the Bulls and the Rockets. Go Bulls!