With apologies for the delay in this recap, last night's Women's Basketball game probably wasn't one you were looking to read up about right away, anyway. Missing Rachael Gregory, the Bulls dropped to 1-3 in the MAC with a 59-62 loss to the visiting Western Michigan Broncos.
Buffalo had three players in double-digits and was able to keep WMU's Miracle Woods to just 21 foul-plagued minutes, but couldn't pull out the home win simply because they couldn't hit a shot; other than Kristen Sharkey, Alexus Malone, and Mackenzie Loesing, UB was just 5-24 from the field. The Broncos were led by 19 points in 35 minutes and 3-5 shooting from distance from guard AJ Johnson.
What's even more troubling about UB's shooting woes is how quickly they came. Midway through the first half, Kristen Sharkey was dominating, UB was shooting 8-17 from the floor, and the Bulls were holding tight with the Broncos. Then Woods headed to the bench and what should have been a momentum flip in favor of UB went the other way.
Western Michigan, even without their All-MAC forward, was consistently able to find points in the paint. Buffalo's normally strong defense could not account for cutting Broncos and precision passing. On the other end, the Bulls continued to flub the ball beyond the baseline for turnovers and miss shots when they did get the chance. You've got to think that Gregory would have made a huge difference throughout in this one.
UB headed into the break down 31-27, but it felt worse. WMU extended the lead to four only in the dying seconds off a transition steal, and had held their hosts without a field goal for over three minutes to close the half. Still, UB had shot 3-8 from outside, and Sharkey had 13 and 6 in the first stanza alone.
Much like the men's loss to the Broncos, however, UB could never get over the hump in the second half, frequently pulling within four, but never drawing even. Simply put, everything dried up. Sharkey did not score in the second half, the three-point shooting took a nosedive from 4-10 to 4-18 on the night, and WMU played the Bulls even on the boards; after an early 18-6 UB advantage, the teams each pulled down 30 rebounds over the final 30 or so minutes.
The backbreaking swings in momentum came seemingly each and every time UB turned the ball over. Like they had done against Cornell, St. Francis, and St. Bonaventure, Buffalo turned up the pressure in the second half, and generated turnovers, but simply handed the ball away themselves. The Broncos would finish the game with 18 points off turnovers, effectively neutralizing UB's 20 points off 20 offensive rebounds.
And yet, as I said above, the Bulls were done in by a total lack of secondary scoring. I don't need to devote many more words to the guard situation, but after Loesing everyone saw time and no one was particularly impressive. Camera Miley had in my mind climbed to the top of the heap, but shot 1-11. Karin Moss had 2 turnovers and a pair of missed threes and nothing else to speak of in 7 minutes of play.
Truthfully, when it comes to running the offense, no one looked more comfortable to my eyes than newcomer Stephanie Reid, who saw 5 minutes of action in her second appearance with the Bulls. With Reid in the game, both the ball and all five players were moving on offense, something that couldn't be said for much of the other 35 minutes.
For a half on Tuesday night, UB looked OK, especially considering they were missing Gregory. Sharkey was working it down low, there had been a couple timely triples that hadn't turned into too many attempts, and despite a prolonged scoring drought, the home team faced only a four-point deficit.
After the break, all the bad things and none of the good things continued. UB hit just 14 of their last 47 shots, got outscored 36-30 in the paint - despite, again, only 21 minutes from Woods - and couldn't generate anything beyond their Big Four.
The Bulls remain at home and will play Ball State this Saturday at 1:00 PM. It is once again the first half of a men's-women's doubleheader at Alumni Arena, so if you're coming to see the men take on Miami, do come early and cheer on the ladies, as well. If nothing else, come to see Kristen Sharkey pass 1,000 career points; the forward currently sits at 997.