This past Tuesday, UB got a huge 71-69 win over a top-50 team in Duquesne. Moving to 4-0 with that result, the Bulls look to stay undefeated this afternoon as they take on the Sacred Heart Pioneers. Looking at their remaining non-conference slate, UB has a solid chance at entering MAC play undefeated.
Sacred Heart is lead by head coach Jessica Mannetti. She’s in her fourth year with the program after an assistant coaching gig at Hofstra. Last season, Mannetti led the Pioneers to an NEC regular season title but fell short in the conference tournament and eventually participated in the WNIT.
After graduating three seniors from last year’s squad, Sacred Heart still brings back plenty of talent to remain favorites to win the Northeastern Conference this season. They currently hold a 2-2 record with wins against Binghamton and Fairfield while holding losses to Lehigh and Brown.
Adaysha Williams, Hannah Kimmel, and Katherine Haines are all players to watch out for from this squad. Williams and Haines are averaging 14.3 and 12.5 points per game so far on the season. Last year, Kimmel was named the NEC player of the year and is currently averaging 14 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
What to watch for
1. Keeping track of Kimmel
Kimmel is a total matchup problem and it’ll be interesting to see how UB will handle her. Listed as a 6-0 Guard/Forward, she can play just about anywhere on the court and has a three point shot—a rarity for a minor conference like the NEC.
2. Smothering the Pioneers with defense
A vast majority of Sacred Heart’s scoring comes from their top three players. UB should focus on containing them and keeping the score low to make this expected win even better.
3. JoAnna Smith
To say that a player who’s averaging 11.8 points per game is struggling is feels weird but that’s the case here. JoAnna Smith hasn’t had the best start to the season we’ll see if she can shake off the cobwebs and deliver a dominating performance.
4. Brittany Morrison
After coming alive late last season, we haven’t seen too much of Morrison. One can only hope she has a breakout game here when UB’s playing smaller.
5. Can the Bulls have another clean game?
One of the biggest reasons Buffalo took home a huge upset versus Duquesne was their lack of turnovers. Buffalo put together their best performance yet with only 11 turnovers for the entire game. Sacred Heart is definitely not on the same level as Duquesne and it’d be great to see that taking care of the ball becomes a trend.
Like most of their non-conference slate, Buffalo shouldn’t have too much trouble winning this game although Hannah Kimmel may cause the Bulls some problems in this one. If UB can get out to their usual dominant first quarter, then it should be game over.