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Buffalo Bulls Women’s Basketball: Observations from the Bloomsburg Exhibition

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Women’s basketball is underway as the Bulls played a tune up game last week versus Bloomsburg. Buffalo cruised to a 65-45 win over the Division II opponent thanks to commanding efforts by JoAnna Smith and Mariah Suchan in almost no time at all. Both players were in the game for just about 20 minutes.

Smith continues to be a dominant force despite the small amount of playing time. The Senior averaged 34 minutes per game last season but in a little over half of that she dropped 14 points on the Huskies. Her three-point shooting was also on the nose, going 66% from beyond the arc. This Friday’s game could be a field day for her.

One of the bigger storylines of this upcoming season has been the improvement of Mariah Suchan. Sometimes you end up seeing these kinds of storylines blown out of proportion but Suchan’s case is the opposite of that. Mariah’s defense kept the Huskies in check while she had an effective offensive game to complement that. Suchan finished the night with 9 points, 5 boards, and only fouled once in 19 minutes of play.

It may only be an exhibition, but from what I saw I wouldn’t be surprised to see Suchan in the starting lineup sometime this season. If not, she’s going to do Buffalo wonders from the bench. Let’s see how she holds up versus UMass.

The other pleasant surprises from this game were UB’s freshmen. Although we didn’t see any time from Lawrencia Moten, Summer Hemphill and Theresa Onwuka had plenty to show off. Hemphill did a little of everything as she reeled in 5 points, 8 rebounds, and even dished out a couple of assists. Her ability to read whether a shot in the post is smart is above average as a freshman and she’s selfless enough to hand the ball over to anyone else. Onwuka didn’t have the best night shooting the ball, but she drove into the lane effectively many times. With a little development, she’ll wreak havoc with that ability standing at 5-10.

The toughest thing to see from this performance is Cassie Oursler. The Grand Island native fouled out despite playing only 13 minutes on the night. Hacking fouls have been a problem for Oursler in her entire time here at Buffalo and at least two of her fouls from this game were of that nature.

Coach Jack deserves praise as well from this game. Instead of committing to keeping certain players on the court, she was not afraid to make substitutions if someone was playing poorly—something that didn’t happen at points last season. Regardless of the potential that Onwuka showed, she was limited to 14 minutes. Courtney Wilkins’ poor shooting from beyond the arc also comes to mind in this case.

Of course, there’s only so much that we can take from one game—especially an exhibition versus a non-Division I opponent. We’ll definitely be able to learn more in the Bulls’ regular season opener versus UMass. For now, things are looking bright as the team seems to be heading in the right direction.