Two wins and help. That's what the UB Women's Basketball team needs to close out the season in a MAC top-four seed and earn the accompanying bye. Tonight, they got the first of two with a 55-47 win over the injury-riddled Bowling Green Falcons. Mackenzie Loesing scored five points in the final 1:50 to finally put the Bulls up out of a tight game.
It's a win, but it was much tougher than it should have been, closer to the crushing Miami loss than the stunning Akron win. Though Bowling Green only dressed eight players at the end of a long season, Assistant Coach Blake DuDonis, speaking to Sloane Martin postgame, noted that Stroh Arena is always a tough place to play, no matter the circumstances; "The only reason they are where they are is due to injuries. The culture's still there."
We didn't see quite the same second-half surge that we've grown accustomed to, even in losses, from the Bulls, but we were desperately looking for one after the two teams hit the half tied at 22 with Bowling Green owning the boards to a nine-rebound advantage. UB had stayed in the game thanks to 11 forced turnovers and the outside shooting of Joanna Smith.
The rebounding numbers nearly evened out by the end of the game, and that tells a story of a team at nearly full health outlasting one that was down to seven players after Bowling Green's Erica Fullencamp fouled out with more than four minutes to play. Even then, as UB slowly pulled away, they didn't markedly outplay the Falcons on the floor to my eyes.
Smith was joined by Christa Baccas (10), Kristen Sharkey (9), and Alexus Malone (8) on the scoresheet. Malone owned the boards, especially late, to finish with 12 rebounds. Deborah Hoekstra led Bowling Green with 13 points and 13 boards in the loss.
Other than the win, and UB's still-precarious chances at a bye, the only real notable thing about this one was the complete lack of professionalism of the ESPN3 announcers. I can't be certain they were affiliated with Bowling Green, but I wouldn't blame you for thinking so.
In the short amount of time I was watching the broadcast before flipping to Sloane Martin's radio call, they laughed at Mackenzie Loesing taking an elbow to the chest and being thrown to the ground, they criticized the choice of UB's Australian players to come to Buffalo over other, seemingly more desirable, places, and mocked Stephanie Reid's desire to travel to Antarctica. I really hesitate to say something about it here, but it was egregious.
Anyway, UB's final game of the season comes this Saturday, at Kent State at 2:00 PM. If everything around the MAC goes against UB today, the chances at a bye may be gone, but I'll take a look and have a post up prior to the game.