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Buffalo Bulls 82, Ball State Cardinals 78, and UB 68, Toledo Rockets 61: Takeaways from two-win Wednesday

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Life was good, if frustrating, for both UB basketball teams this past Wednesday.

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A little delayed, because signing day was a bit hectic (in a good way), but here we are with our usual takeaways following yet another gameday with both the men and women playing at the same time. I understand that few people are like me and desperately want to watch both teams, but c'mon guys.

I shouldn't bellyache too much, because it's still happening FIVE more times this year. No fun.

Anyway, takeaways.

Men: Won at Ball State 82-78

Buffalo Bulls 82, Ball State Cardinals 78: Critical road trip begins with win, slew of fouls
There is nothing to [WHISTLE] learn from this game, and it's not because of poor [WHISTLE] by either team. It's just tough to play basketball with that [WHISTLE] many whistles.

/prolonged fart noises

/pauses

/farts again

As I said in the recap, there is *nothing* to learn from this. This game is the horse from True Grit. It's not going to make it. Shoot it and get on with Jeff Bridges and your life.

The only thing I have to say is I was glad to see the team persevere on the road. They didn't against Ohio with the lead, or fight much without the lead at CMU or WMU. We can make something of the narrow margin of victory, but that's not emblematic of the full game.

I went through the play by play data. Don't forget that with 38 seconds to go UB was up eight. Don't forget that for much of the second half, when "basketball" was actually being played, the Bulls maintained a multiple-possession lead deep into the game.

This wasn't the road games at either Miami or Ohio, where the home team had all the momentum, and once the clock ended early enough for UB and once moments too late.  This was a UB team consistently keeping Ball State away but for a very late turnover due to miscommunication and nothing else with the Bulls still up four.

Don't believe me on the 'consistency' line above? Eight times in the final five minutes, Ball State closed within two possessions. UB responded with points on their next possession on six of those eight instance, with one of the misses coming on that turnover with 16 seconds left.

Time BSU Scorer Points Score UB Response Points
4:21 Turner 1 68-62 Moss 2
3:45 Sellers 3 (2+1) 70-65 Evans 0 (miss)
3:22 House 2 (FTs) 70-67 Ford 3
2:44 Turner 3 73-70 Evans 3
2:18 Sellers 1 76-71 Ford 1
:30 Sellers 2 (FT) 79-73 Bearden 1
:16 Turner 3 80-76 Evans 0 (TO)
:10 Turner 2 80-78 Bearden 2 (FT)

I think that's all there is to this one: UB didn't just hold on, they stepped up offensively and - other than one late miscue - mentally as the stakes got higher.

Other than that, pour gasoline on it and watch it burn.

Women: Won vs Toledo 68-61

Buffalo Bulls 68, Toledo Rockets 61: Home rematch ends in big comeback win for Women's Hoops
If UB Women's Basketball wants to make something of this season, it's high time to get going. While we're barely past the midway point of the MAC schedule, we've also crossed the emotional Rubicon...

There was a stretch in this one during which I was very unhappy. UB lost in Toledo because Inma Zanoguera took over late, and the Bulls, playing with a short rotation, couldn't play their normal defense without fouling. In this one, we once again got a strong start and a first-half lead over the Rockets, then Zanoguera took over, 20 minutes earlier than last time.

Bench Production

Hell yes! I'm not sure how confident I would have been if you'd told me we'd only see three Bulls come off the bench, but Karin Moss, Liisa Ups, and Mackenzie Loesing combined for 23 points, 10 assists, and 5 steals in 57 minutes. I will maintain my reservations about all three: 0 turnovers for Moss, 2-3 shooting for Ups, and just 6 attempts from distance from Loesing are all uncharacteristic, but those three came up big on a day when starting guards Stephanie Reid and Joanna Smith (and forward Alexus Malone, too) were both off.

Defensive Stretch

Here's something we saw last year, but only in fits and starts this season: a prolonged defensive stand that swung the game in UB's favor.

With 14 minutes to play, Janice Monakana hit a free throw to put Toledo up ten, 45-35. Since the big Rocket run in the first half, that had been about the margin. UB took the lead seven minutes later at 50-49 on a Kristen Sharkey jumper and proceeded to shut the visitors out for nearly three further minutes, building a 58-49 lead.

That 12-0 run lasted four minutes in totum, and the larger 23-4 run came over ten minutes. In that stretch, just ten minutes long, Toledo shot 1-10 from the floor, 2-3 from the line, and committed 6 turnovers. That's good defense, and it won UB the game.

Forwards

The second half saw the most complete offense of the year, in part because UB did use the three-ball (successfully!) to spark the comeback. And they shot better from distance because the offense was running better and getting more space for the shooters. But they still got the ball to their bread and butter.

If Kristen Sharkey didn't already have a nickname, and many, many Jaws .gifs on my computer, maybe I'd start calling her "Bread and Butter." The senior scored 14 of her 26 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the second half while hitting 4-7 from the line. She's awesome, and UB is able to get the ball to her, and life is good.

Christa Baccas is also awesome, adding a double-double herself, with 5 points and 6 boards in the second half. Big players coming up big.

UB got 18 foul shots in the second half after 0 in the first. I applaud this, though I do not applaud converting only ten of them.

A Note on Kristen Sharkey

I do not have a Jaws .gif this time, because the Shark du Jour is Left Shark from Katie Perry's Super Bowl halftime show. People love Left Shark. People have sent us Left Shark photos because I call Sharkey The Shark.

I say send Left Shark to the same place as the Ball State game and the horse from True Grit.

We are in not in the business of celebrating the "Low" example of some baloney early-90s fitness video where the "Medium" example is the lead and someone to the right goes bonkers on a platform labeled "High," getting the same amount of praise as the person on the "Low' platform.

No.

Kristen Sharkey is Right Shark. Long Live Right Shark. Right Shark is Love, Right Shark is Life.

Go Bulls