BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team used some late clutch shooting to defeat Miami (OH) on Wednesday night, 77-74. The win snaps a three-game losing streak and improves UB's record to 14-13 on the season and 7-7 in the MAC.
The Bulls led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but the visiting RedHawks made a late run pulling within one in the final minutes. However the Bulls hit some big shots, no bigger than a three-pointer from sophomore Nicki Hopkins with just over a minute to play, giving the Bulls a four-point lead. The RedHawks again rallied pulling within one on a free throw from Kristen Olowinski, but the sophomore missed the second shot. Miami got the rebound but Erica Almady was trapped and then passed the ball right to Kourtney Brown, who was fouled with four seconds to go. Brown capped off her stellar night by hitting two free throws, putting the Bulls up 77-74. Miami took one last chance as time expired, but Hannah Robertson's shot was off the mark.
The Bulls built their lead early on as they shot a season-high 61.8 percent in he first half, building a 44-35 halftime lead. Brown and senior Ashley Zuber started right where they left off in Oxford back in January as Brown had 18 first half points, while Zuber dished out six assists in the opening 20 minutes.
Miami also shot the ball well early on as they staked themselves out to an 8-2 lead just two minutes into the contest. The RedHawks continued to lead by six at 10-4 when the Bulls went on an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to take a 17-10 lead. Zuber had five of those points, while Brown contributed with four. The Bulls led by as many as nine points in the opening half on a layup from Jessica Fortman with 5:55 to go. The RedHawks cut the lead to three with 2:00 left, but the Bulls closed out the half on a 6-0 run including an off-balanced jumper from Hopkins as she grabbed her own rebound on a missed three as time expired in the half.
The Bulls built their lead to as many as 15 points in the second half as they led 65-50 with 8:21 to go. However, the RedHawks responded with eight straight points, pulling within seven. The Bulls rebuilt an eight-point lead before Miami scored seven straight points, pulling within one before the Hopkins triple.
"All of our games are really critical right now," said head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald. "We are really happy to turn things around after losing a couple. I thought we missed some shots in the second half that were falling for us in the first, but we hit some big shots when we needed to late in the game."
Brown led the way with 29 points, eight rebounds and five blocks and has now averaged 32.0 points and 6.0 blocks in her two games against Miami this year. Junior Brittany Hedderson had 13 points and three assists, while Zuber finished with 10 points, eight assists and three steals. Fortman added seven points, six rebounds and three assists, while Bridgette Kendricks had five points, two rebounds and a team-high four steals.
Junior Beth Christensen came of the bench to have one of her best games of her career. She had six points, a game-high 13 rebounds, two assists and three steals. The 13 rebounds tie a career high for Christensen. Hopkins had five points off the bench while freshman Kristen Sharkey poured in a couple.
As a team, UB outscored Miami in the paint, 48-28, while also scoring 15 points off 16 Miami turnovers. The Bulls turned the ball over just 12 times in the game.
UB returns to action on Saturday afternoon for their final regular season home game. The Bulls host Ohio at 2:00 pm. Prior to the game, UB will recognize its four seniors (Brown, Fortman, Kendricks, Zuber).