BUFFALO, NY – During UB's last two games, the script was the same. Take a one-point lead into the half only to falter in the second half, losing tight games to Bowling Green and Miami. However, on Tuesday night the Bulls flipped the script, trailing by two at the half and exploding for 50 second half points as they defeated Kent State, 85-72. The victory was just UB's fourth ever against the Golden Flashes and second at Alumni Arena.
The game was extremely tight through out as both teams shot the ball extremely well. The Bulls shot a season-high 55.6% from the floor, but Kent State nearly matched it, shooting 53.7%. UB got itself out to an early lead, scoring 11 of the first 14 points of the game. However, the Golden Flashes responded with a 13-4 run to take a lead eight minutes in. UB jumped back out to an eight-point advantage as a layup from Nytor Longar gave the Bulls a 35-27 lead. That would turn out to be Buffalo's final points of the first half as Kent State went on a 10-0 run over the final 5:53 of the first half.
The Golden Flashes extended their lead to 42-37 on an early three pointer from Tamzin Barroilhet, taking their largest lead of the game at five. The Bulls responded with a three pointer from Brittany Hedderson and another Longar jumper to quickly tie things up at 42-42. Both teams would exchange the lead back and forth with Kent State continuing to hold a 65-64 lead with 7:39 left. The Bulls responded with a 6-0 run and never looked back. Up 71-70 with 4:53 left, the Bulls turned on their defensive pressure as Kent State did not score again until their was just seven seconds remaining. In that time, UB had gone on a 14-2 run. Included in the run were some impressive individual performances, capitalized on an old fashioned three point play from senior Beth Christensen where she made a hard move to the basket and was fouled as her underhand scoop went off the glass and in.
"It wasn't the best defensive effort, but we turned it on late and got the big stops when we needed them," said head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald. "The two things we have talked about all season was holding onto the basketball and hitting free throws and those two things were huge for our success, especially the low turnovers."
The Bulls tied their season-low with just 12 turnovers in the game, including just three in the entire second half. Tonight also became the fourth straight game that UB has committed less turnovers then its opponent and the sixth game in the last seven opportunities. Over the first 22 games, the Bulls had done that just three times.
For the third time this season UB had a pair of players score 20-plus points. Hedderson led the way with 24 points, two rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Longar followed that up with 21 points, four rebounds, a block and a steal. Christensen had arguably one of her most complete games, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals.
Seniors Ephesia Holmes and Teresa Semalulu each finishing with eight points, five assists and two steals. Semalulu added five rebounds, while Holmes had a blocked shot. Sophomore Margeaux Gupilan added seven points and three assists off the bench while Christa Baccas and Nicki Hopkins had five and three points, respectively. The Bulls also got six minutes off the bench from freshman Sloane Walton.
Kent State had three players log 40 minutes of action and a fourth play 37 minutes. The Golden Flashes were led by 20 points from Barroilhet, who also added seven rebounds. They had all five of their starters in double figures as the Kent State starting five was responsible for its entire point total.
The Bulls will conclude the home portion of their schedule on Saturday afternoon as they host Ohio at 12:00 pm. The game will be a doubleheader with the UB men and will be Senior Day for UB's four-member senior class.