Coming close to taking the lead late in the game and winning against Ball State, Buffalo Bulls Women’s Basketball fell short in the end and now sit at an evened out MAC Play record. The Bulls currently sit two games back from a top-four seed in the MAC Tournament and now have to start rattling off some wins against lesser opponents. Today, the Bulls face Western Michigan with bad memories of getting routed by the Broncos a year ago.
Western Michigan is lead by head coach Shane Clipfell. The former Michigan State coach has rebuilt the WMU program with a 17-win and a 20-win season in the past two years. The latter also brought in a WNIT bid. Clipfell has also gone every season since arriving to WMU with at lead one MAC Tournament victory.
So far, this has been the Broncos’ best season yet under Clipfell. Despite graduating leading scorer Jessica Jessing and some other key pieces, the Broncos are chock full of juniors this year just like Buffalo and they’re reaping the rewards of veteran leadership. WMU currently sits at 14-5 overall with 5-3 MAC mark. If Buffalo wins this matchup, it’s really going to help them when it comes to tie-breakers for seeds in the tourney.
The Broncos have a 1-2-3 scoring punch of Marley Hill, Breanna Mobley, and Meredith Shipman. One of the best low post threats in the conference, Hill currently leads the Broncos with 15.6 points and 5.6 rebounds respectively. After being a key reserve player last year, Breanna Mobley has turned into quite the handful—averaging 14.8 points and 10.1 rebounds. If Buffalo wants to win the rebounding battle today, they need to limit her. Finally, there’s Western Michigan’s three-point ace Meredith Shipman. She hits 38% of her shots and she’s getting 12 points a game.
What to watch for
1. Western Michigan’s transition game
Sometimes you get the challenge that you need at the right time. WMU is one of the best teams in the conference when it comes to running the floor. Coincidentally, Buffalo is coming off of a pretty bad game in terms of transition defense when they played Ball State. If the Bulls can disrupt WMU in transition, their half-court defense should be enough to pull out a win.
2. The bench
It’s great that the Bulls had so many players in double figures last time around, but in the end they didn’t get the win. UB absolutely needs one or two people off of the bench to play some big minutes. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Katherine Ups’ defense and Mariah Suchan would be another that could add to the scoring.
3. Deja Wimby
Western Michigan’s fourth best scorer can be easily overlooked with the three really good players ahead of her. In her past five games, she’s been taking it a notch further and may have a surprise game.
4. JoAnna Smith
It definitely looks like she’s back to her normal 20+ point per game night. In her last five games, she’s knocking down over 24 points and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. With the way the bench has been producing, the Bulls need another big afternoon from the senior.