BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team used balanced scoring to snap a seven-game losing streak and give the Bulls their eighth straight victory over Niagara, defeating the Purple Eagles, 65-51, Friday afternoon at Alumni Arena. The Bulls finished the game with four players in double figures, led by 17 points from freshman Mackenzie Loesing.
The Purple Eagles hit the first basket of the game, but it would be the last time that they would lead as Buffalo responded with a 15-2 run, capped off on a three pointer from junior Margeaux Gupilan. The Bulls were able to use their defensive pressure to drive their offense and took their largest lead of the first half at 17 on a four-point play from Loesing, who was fouled while nailing a three pointer. However, the Purple Eagles responded and closed the first half on an 11-3 run as Buffalo went into the break up 31-21.
The first 10 minutes of the second half belonged all to the Bulls, who managed to stretch their lead to 22, their largest lead of the season. Up by 12 with just over 14 minutes left, Buffalo scored three straight baskets off of steals on the defensive end. The first came from Gupilan, who fed redshirt junior Cherridy Thornton for the easy two. The next two steals came from Loesing as she took the first one to the basket herself and dished the second off to classmate Rachael Gregory. UB completed its 14-3 run with a layup from sophomore Christa Baccas, giving Buffalo a 49-27 lead with 11:28 left.
Niagara again crept back, but pulled no closer than 10 with 3:27 left in regulation. The Bulls, who struggled from the free throw line all game, scored their last six points from the charity stripe.
"This was the first time in a long time that we were able to just work on ourselves and learn about ourselves and not worry about anyone else," said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. "I thought we trusted each other well and we played for each other out there today. Being able to finally have Cherridy [Thornton] out there, who is a great scorer and leader, took the pressure off some of the younger players."
The Bulls had four players in double figures led by the 17 points from Loesing, who filled the stat sheet with eight rebounds, three assists and six steals. Coming off her career-high 20 point game, Gupilan finishes today's contest with 14 points, four rebounds and four steals. Gregory added 13 points and eight rebounds for her sixth straight game in double figures, while Thornton added 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench. For Thornton, this was her first game in a Buffalo uniform after sitting out last season and the Fall semester as a mid-year transfer. She provided all 11 bench points for UB.
Redshirt sophomore Kristen Sharkey had another strong game against a Big 4 opponent as she finished with eight points, a game-high 10 rebounds, two blocks, an assist and a steal. Baccas added two points and four rebounds. The Bulls outshot Niagara from the floor and the three-point line, but did struggle from the free throw line, shooting just 18-of-36. As a team, UB followed up its 16-steal performance in its last game with another 12 against the Purple Eagles.
The Bulls will take a short break for the Christmas holiday before returning home to Alumni Arena to face Pittsburgh on Dec. 29. Tip off is at 2:00 pm.