Bulls Nearly Pull off Quarterfinal Upset of Akron
CLEVELAND, OH – The season came to an end for the University at Buffalo women's basketball team on Thursday afternoon, but not before nearly pulling off a huge upset of third-seeded Akron in the Quarterfinals of the FirstEnergy Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Bulls lost to Akron, 83-79, in a game that featured 15 lead changes.
Behind a 22-7 scoring run early in the second half, Buffalo rallied from 14 points down to take a 58-57 lead. After a Kristen Sharkey free throw gave the Bulls a 70-66 lead with 5:43, Akron's Taylor Ruper hit a three-pointer and was fouled. Her free throw tied the game at 70 and sparked an anxious Akron team.
Sharkey's ninth straight point for the Bulls gave UB a 74-73 lead with 3:52 left. However, the Zips responded with four straight points to gain the lead for good, 77-74.
It was a career-day for Sharkey who scored 20 of her career-high 26 points in the second half. She shot 12-of-19 from the field and added seven rebounds. UB's post players were very effective as Christa Baccas added 12 points, nine rebounds and a career-high eight blocked shots.
Buffalo played tremendous at the offensive end of the court, shooting a season-best 53 percent from the field for the game. Defensively, the Bulls blocked a season-high 13 shots and held the Zips to 42 percent shooting. The difference in the game was first-half rebounding. The Zips outrebounded the Bulls, 25-14, in the first half, including 11 on the offensive glass and scored 11 second-chance points. UB clamped down in the second half, not allowing an Akron second-chance point over the final 20 minutes of action.
The other difference in the game came at the free throw line where Akron went 14-of-17 and the Bulls converting on 4-of-7.
Akron, which improved to 22-8 and moved to the MAC Semifinals, had five players in double figures led by 22 points from Hanna Luburgh.
"I am just so honored to have been able to work with this outstanding group of young ladies," said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. "It was privilege to lead them this season. Of course the loss hurts today, but because of this group our future is going to be much brighter."
The Bulls graduate just one senior in Nicki Hopkins, but return several underclassmen, who played a large role in the success late in the season.