BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team allowed just 14 first-half points, en route to a 63-44 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon. The Bulls had three players in double figures, while senior Nicki Hopkins played 40 minutes for the first time in her career. The win improves Buffalo's record to 4-2 in the MAC, tying its win total in MAC play from last season.
The first half was a series of runs as the Bulls began the game on a 9-0 run, only to be answered by Western Michigan's 12-0 run. However, the lead would be short lived for the Broncos as the Bulls turned up the defensive intensity and went on a 19-2 run over the final 10:17 of the first half. The Bulls held Western Michigan scoreless for over nine minutes in the half and took a 28-14 lead into the half. The 14 points allowed by the Bulls were the fewest allowed all season in a half.
Buffalo opened up a 20-point advantage in the second half following a three pointer from Hopkins, which gave the Bulls a 46-26 advantage with 9:41 left. The Broncos again pulled within 14 at 51-37, but the Bulls answered on a 6-0 run, capped off on back-to-back fast break layups, first from sophomore Christa Baccas and a second freshman Mackenzie Loesing, putting the Bulls back up by 20, 57-37. Buffalo went on to take its largest lead of the game at 21 following a three-point play from Baccas with 1:34 left in regulation.
"I thought our intensity was excellent today and that translated from the intensity we had in practice the last few days," said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. "Despite not getting into the game today, I thought Kaila Callender really pushed the team in practice and her energy and it got us ready for today."
Loesing finished with a game-high 15 points, adding four rebounds, two assists and five steals. Baccas had her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Redshirt junior Cherridy Thornton had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Redshirt sophomore Kristen Sharkey finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, while junior Margeux Gupilan had eight points, six rebounds, five assists and a steal. Hopkins, who picked up her first start of the season, played all 40 minutes and finished with six points and an assist.
After committing 31 turnovers and sending their opponents to the free throw line 39 times in the last game, the Bulls cut down on both numbers and instead played solid defensive allowing just 44 points and recording nine steals. Through UB's first six conference games, it has now allowed less than 59 points five times and less than 45 points twice.
After playing four of the first six games at home, the Bulls will hit the road for what will be six of the next eight games on the road. That stretch begins on Thursday afternoon at Miami (OH). It will be Kid's Day in Oxford with a special 12:00 pm start time.