After a dominant win over UMass, the Buffalo Bulls had another opponent of a similar quality to face in Niagara. We all soon learned that the Purple Eagles were not to be taken lightly despite all of their disadvantages. After getting a scare in the second half, the Bulls pulled out a 73-63 win thanks to JoAnna Smith and an eccentric performance from freshman Summer Hemphill.
For ten minutes, Buffalo went big on their offense. Cassie Oursler started out as a force in the post while a duo of JoAnna Smith and Gabi Bade rained three-pointers over Niagara. Buffalo’s defense wasn’t the best for this quarter, but the stellar offense made up for it.
With a 24-15 lead entering the second quarter, Buffalo’s diverse offense fell apart. While Gabi Bade kept putting on a basketball clinic, no one else seemed to be able to score. Usually we can’t complain about UB’s offense because the defense is so potent, but that wasn’t the case entering the half. Buffalo’s defensive efforts collapsed and the Bulls were tied with Niagara with 37 a piece.
The offense got worse for a bulk of the third quarter as Niagara took over the lead. It looked like the Bulls were going to be victim of a bad loss early in the season.
Then Summer Hemphill happened.
Summer Hemphill — a freshman and Buffalo native — backed up her near double-double performance from UMass. Out of nowhere, the forward erupted for 9 points in the quarter, notched two steals, and seemed to be at the end of every UB fast break. Hemphill is going to be special for the future of this program.
With the help of Hemphill stretching UB’s game to the front court, JoAnna Smith was able to find her shooting touch as she also pulled in nine points. This pairing made the only UB points of the entire quarter.
Hemphill kept the hot streak going for the rest of the game as UB also found some offense from Stephanie Reid. Reid was able to draw 4 fouls in the final minutes to help ice the game.
The Bulls were lead by the ever so dominant JoAnna Smith. She finished the night with a whopping 20 points off of excellent 75% shooting. This shooting percentage is what we hoped for now that UB has more offensive threats.
Gabi Bade and Summer Hemphill also had strong nights. Bade’s dazzling three point shooting gave the Bulls 16 points—cementing her as another spark off of the bench. Hemphill’s 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists were the highlight of this night.
Buffalo stays at home once again when we see them next thanks to a home heavy non-conference schedule. The Bulls will play Manhattan this Saturday at 2:00 PM. The game will be aired on ESPN3.
More from this game will be touched on with a beginning of the season overview on Friday and next week’s podcast.