Women's Basketball fell hard in the second half against Duquesne Sunday, and has lost two in a row heading into an important road game against St. Bonaventure, who have been the top of the heap in Western New York for some time despite UB's victory in the rivalry last season.
Before that, takeaways from the loss to the Dukes:
Gabi Bade's improvement
I have been high on Bade for a long time, and disappointed for a shorter, more recent stretch of time. Her shooting has been off and she's in bits this year been prone to some mental errors, though the secondary stats keep coming. Sunday it came together for the freshman, who hit her first four shots, including three triples, to spur the Bulls through a gangbusters second quarter.
The 5-8 Californian finished with 3 assists and 2 steals in 28 minutes while operated in a nice symbiosis with Stephanie Reid. While she also added 4 turnovers, those didn't feel as devastating in light of her offensive contributions and everyone else's similar struggles in ball security.
Struggles with height and pace
I speculated pregame that Mariah Suchan's insertion into the starting lineup could be due to the sophomore's improving play or could be in effort to counteract Duquesne's pair of 6-3 forwards. In a game that featured either 12 minutes of clear UB control or 28 minutes of clear Duquesne control, those forwards and point guard April Robinson, who is among the best in the country in assists/game, were the litmus test.
UB was bullied early, but clawed back from the free throw line and then caught fire with Robinson and Kadri-Ann Lass on the bench with two fouls, but in the second half could not counter both Lass and Amadea Szamosi, who finished with 42 combined points, regain the stroke from distance, or set up their defense before Robinson was already two steps into running the Dukes offense. Mirte Scheper, though 6-5, is still learning just how much of a physical advantage she really has, and could do to be more assertive.
Joanna Smith isn't an everyday reliable performer yet
Coach Jack has referred at times to Smith as 'our Steph Curry,' and like it or not, it's not true. The junior is 6-26 from the floor in the last two games, and only 3-11 from inside the arc.
While Steph Reid has the creative floor vision and ability to get to the hoop, before this year that was a big part of Smith's game as well that's waned in 2015. In this losing streak she's only 2-2 from the line and only pulled down 7 rebounds, her lowest two-game output of the regular season. Only two of those have been on the offensive end.
In my eyes, Smith is most successful when she's doing a little of everything, including working in towards the hoop both on drives and to corral offensive rebounds. Even in her higher-scoring games this year, that's not happened as much as before. Fully 50% of her points are coming from three, and she's 16th in the nation in three-point attempts, but I can't help but feel that outside of fast break transitions, her athleticism and strength are being underused.
Player of the Game: Bade
Here's hoping there's more coming from the freshman.