The ladies have made it to Cleveland, but the real challenge has just begun. For the third time this season, the Women's Basketball team will have to square off against the now #1 seeded Ohio Bobcats in the MAC Quarterfinals. The last two outings against this team have been a fairy tale for the Bulls. The Bobcats have dominated the MAC and just about all of their opponents this season. Fortunately for Buffalo, they have yet to figure out the Bulls. Today could be one of the bigger wins in UB Women's Hoops' history as they could sweep a dangerous Ohio team and get their third win of the season against them.
With that being said, Ohio is a scary team. They reached #25 in the coaches poll before they were immediately knocked down a peg by the Bulls team you will watch this afternoon. That game was Ohio's first loss in MAC play. After the loss, the Bobcats went on a 6 game winning streak until they were once again taken down by your Bulls at the Convocation Center. These ended up being Ohio's only two losses in MAC play.
The Bobcats are led by Kiyanna Black. She averages 18.4 points per game but extreme attention needs to be paid to her. On any given day, this senior phenom can drop 30 or more onto any team. In the last two outings with the Bulls, Black has struggled. She shot 4-21 and 3-12 from the field in these games respectively and she did not look like the same player whatsoever.
Quiera Lampkins is Ohio's second threat. The Junior from Gahanna, Ohio is having a wonderful season as she's grabbing 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Lampkins shoots the ball well at 43% and shouldn't be taken lightly as she scored 11 and an Ohio leading 18 respectively versus the Bulls in both outings with the Bobcats.
What Should We Pay Attention to?
1. The pace
Ohio wants to run up and down the floor with a high-octane offense. Unlike UB and mentioned above, they have the weapons to do that. Buffalo must keep the Bobcats in check defensively and slow the pace to one that was reminiscent of the last two games. Get ready for a loss if the Bulls can't do this.
2. Can the Bulls shutdown Kiyanna Black again?
If it wasn't for Ball State's Nathalie Fontaine, I'd give Kiyanna Black MAC POTY hands down. Black as mentioned before has struggled against Buffalo. What's been apparent is how shutting her down early will cause her to throw up even more shots (and often times the selection is poor). If Buffalo holds this star in check, a gigantic puzzle piece is already in place to go and get the elusive win.
3. Will the third and fourth option please step up?
One thing that sealed the deal in both Ohio upsets was scoring from all sorts of fronts. In our first game with the Bobcats, Karin Moss put up a fantastic 11 point effort and took some of the load off of Joanna Smith and Stephanie Reid. In the second matchup, a resurgent Katherine Ups grabbed 12 points.
Bottom line: The Joanna Smith and Stephanie Reid show will not suffice by itself in order to take down the defending MAC Champs.
For those that are curious about the women's bracket, here it is: