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Bulls shine on offense, but it still isn’t enough as Northern Illinois picks up an 89-80 win

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Defense is escaping the Bulls, and now they’re on the clock to re-unite with it

Photo Courtesy of UB Athletics

Buffalo Bulls Women’s Basketball did a tremendous job keeping up with Northern Illinois for three quarters but in the end, the Huskies emerged victorious on offense. Dropping this game 89-80, the Bulls now find themselves in a spot where they have to reconsider how they’re going about defense, as the hot shooting teams of the MAC have become too much to handle.

The Bulls came out of the first half ready to fight offense with offense. There’s always concern when the Bulls have to face an offensive juggernaut like NIU, but JoAnna Smith and Courtney Wilkins made sure that the Huskies wouldn’t be running away with the lead.

Smith’s first half was nothing short of the word “dominance.” Opening up on a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc, JoAnna shot 7-10 from the field and already had a crushing 18 points to begin the game. Those are numbers that get you looks in the WNBA. Wilkins was great as well, coming alive in these past few games as a solid contributor from the bench. Her biggest highlight came in the second quarter where she showed off a pump-fake step-forward bucket.

The first half made it clear: UB was as good as NIU at their own game, and they were going to try and win that way.

It’s unheard of for a team that signs its name on the dotted line with the word ‘defense’, but with a slim 39-38 lead, the Bulls kept pouring on the offense. Hemphill and Reid found additions to the scoreboard, but once again, Courtney Wilkins was in a groove.

In hands down the best game of her career, Wilkins closed out the third quarter with force, sinking a triple and getting to the bucket for an and-one opportunity.

NIU’s scoring catalyst named Ally Lehman started doing what Ally Lehman does best: take over the game. She was practically NIU’s third quarter and by midway through the final ten minutes, Courtney Woods got into the mix. UB had found themselves in an 11 point hole, 76-65.

Taking the game to free throws, the Bulls just didn’t have enough left in the tank to pull this one out. UB needed just a little more defense to pull out and it wasn’t there. It’s most definitely frustrating for a team that knows they can hold opponents to less than 50.

JoAnna Smith lead the way with 22 points, but only four of those came when Lehman erupted. Courtney Wilkins had one of the best game’s ever in her basketball career at 18 points. Wilkins, modest as ever, still wanted the win and that’s really all she cared about. It’s hard to root against a player with that kind of mentality. Wilkins’ Aussie counterpart Stephanie Reid was the other Bull in double figures with 18 points as well.

The Bulls now fall to 6-6 in conference play and find themselves at a crossroads. After starting the season so well, they’ve got to find a way to right the ship and bring consistency back into their game. Otherwise, a trip to Cleveland will not bode well. Next is a road trip to Ypsilanti against a struggling Eastern Michigan team. This could be just the game for the Bulls to figure out the defensive problems they’re dealing with. That game is on Wednesday at 7:00PM.