There are more palatable ways to lose than that. UB is now on a five-game losing streak.
1. Live by the Smith, Die by the Smith
Career highs from Joanna Smith in both points (31) and rebounds (14) are good. But the junior topped her previous career best with 11 minutes to play and scored only two points in the fourth quarter, when the Bulls shot just 2-12 and were held to 10 points after scoring a whopping 64 through three.
Steph Reid was back to a more limited scoring role yesterday, and OK, I'll take it, since UB didn't win when she scored more, either. But if UB is going to win, they need consistency from Smith, and they need to be able to get her open shots late when they need them. As we saw here, even 31 scintillating points may not be enough.
2. The rotation made more sense
Pretty much a seven-deep crew, with Camera Miley and Courtney Wilkins each getting 8 minutes as eight and nine off the bench. Regardless of how you feel about the personnel choices, that makes more sense than what we've seen.
3. Bade gets the start
... and doesn't do a whole lot with it, unfortunately.
Bade is a freshman. Much of this team are freshmen and sophomores. Inconsistency comes with the territory, but it would have been nice to see someone seize this spot in the lineup. To Gabi's credit, Liisa Ups in a move to the bench still got 21 minutes and didn't really outperform the freshman in any way.
4. Changing fundamental procedures of the game at arbitrary points in time is ridiculous
I said it in the summer, well before it played a key role in a UB loss:
Two other changes will have a significant effect on the game: Inside the final minute of the fourth quarter and any overtime period, teams will be able to advance the ball to the frontcourt after a backcourt timeout. Supposedly this change will "add excitement" to the end of games, but to my eyes it creates a different set of rules and changes the whole game at an arbitrary point. UB will have a guard-heavy lineup this year, and will likely once again rely on a strong press, and this rule change diminishes that strength at the end of a close game.
This game should have been won when Stephanie Reid earned and converted two free throws and UB pressured the inbounds pass to force a heave from around midcourt. Instead, for arbitrary reasons of 'excitement', the Playing Rules Oversight Panel changed this situation last year so that NIU could advance the ball SIXTY-SIX feet for FREE and have time for a few passes in the offensive end.
What is the significance, other than a round number, of changing a fundamental aspect of the game with one minute to play? Why not do it with 2:37 to go? Track runners don't have to run the final 15 meters of their races backwards, and defenses shouldn't have to play high leverage possessions at such a disadvantage just because it's a late game situation. This rule change was made to create this situation exactly: to create something out of nothing and to give a team who had rightfully lost but for a low-percentage heave a chance to run a substantially higher percentage play entirely in the offensive half.
And if it's excitement you want, bring back the awesome defense from November and December.
Player of the Game: Joanna Smith
The finest showing yet in a mostly unstoppable season.