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A WIN-WIN SITUATION FOR UB HOOPS
UB men cruise past NIU, UB women handle CMU to sweep a Saturday doubleheader at Alumni Arena
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Winning is good: Both the University at Buffalo men’s and women’s basketball teams moved back over .500 on Saturday with a pair of victories in a matinee doubleheader at Alumni Arena.
The men (8-7 overall, 2-0 in Mid-American Conference action) led by 17 points at the half and as many as 20 points in the second, cruising to an 80-62 win over Northern Illinois (4-11, 0-2) in the noon opener.
The women (6-5, 1-1) bounced back from their one-point loss to Kent State on Wednesday with a solid 80-73 decision against Central Michigan (3-10, 1-1), overcoming a nightmare third quarter to claim Head Coach Becky Burke’s first MAC victory.
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Clean: UB Men Drop Huskies, Look Sharp Doing It
Aside from a minor scoring drought—a 4:43 bucketless stretch early in the second half made significantly less consequential when Northern Illinois only managed to carve a 19-point deficit down to 10—the Bulls had little trouble with the visiting Huskies, the 310th-ranked team among 363 Division 1 men’s basketball squads measured by the NCAA NET metric.
Some good signs from this win, UB’s second in a row to start MAC play:
Hot out of the gate: Buffalo shot 60 percent from the field in the first half, a welcome change from recent outings against Ohio (33 percent), Michigan State (35 percent), West Virginia (41 percent), and Tulane (31 percent). In its early-season three-game winning streak over George Mason, Canisius, and St. Bonaventure, the Bulls averaged 49 percent from the floor in the first half. Seems to be a pattern here, especially for a team that shoots neither threes nor free throws especially well so far.
Slightly shinier stars: This hot start was helped by a significantly improved shooting performance by graduate guard Armoni Foster, who scored 14 points on five-of-eight shooting. This was a significant upgrade from his five-for-19 performance against Ohio. Foster also had five assists for the second time in two wins, and is now ninth in the MAC with 4.6 helpers per game. Swingman Isaiah Adams improved on his four-of-15 shooting against the Bobcats with, well, a four-of-13 performance. He did cut his turnovers from four to one.
Zid is back: Junior guard Yazid Powell returned from injury, his first appearance since the loss to West Virginia on Dec. 18. Zid scored nine points and had three turnovers in 18 minutes.
Jones and Hardnett stay solid: Sophomore guard Curtis Jones and senior forward LaQuill Hardnett continue to be stalwarts on this up-and-down team. Jones scored 19 points in 34 minutes, and went five-of-10 from three. Hardnett narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds, and swiped a team-high three steals. Jones is 10th in the MAC in scoring (15.2 points per game); Hardnett is fifth in boards (7.1 per game).
Little big man: Freshman Isaac Jack, a 6’11 center, started for the third straight game and scored 13 points on six-of-seven shooting.
Toothless Huskies: Keshawn Williams (17.9 points per game), David Coit (13.8 ppg), and Zarique Nutter (9.8 ppg) account for over 60 percent of the NIU offense this season. On Saturday, the Bulls held the trio to 28 combined points. Williams missed significant time following an apparent knee injury in the first half and netted only nine total minutes.
Up Next: Tuesday at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPN+
The RedHawks (6-9, 0-2) lost a nail-biter to Kent State, #4 in the CollegeInsider Top 25, 69-66 in Oxford on Saturday. Miami is 1-5 against Division 1 teams since Dec. 3. Mekhi Lairy had 17 points, four assists and three steals for the RedHawks in the loss while Morgan Safford collected a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Anderson Mirambeaux tallied 13 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Miami is 332nd in NCAA NET. Buffalo is #187. Let’s keep this thing rolling, gentlemen.
10 Forgettable Minutes, But Otherwise a Nice Win for the UB Women
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For 75 percent of their 70-63 win over Central Michigan on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena, the UB women were in complete control. Buffalo jumped out to a 40-22 halftime lead on the strength of a 14-point first-half performance by graduate guard Re’Shawna Stone and eight from her backcourt mate, Zakiyah Winfield. The Bulls shot a cool 61 percent from the floor in the first quarter and got nice contributions from the backcourt duo of Kayla Salmons and Emerita Mashaire, who combined for 12 points and a pair of rebounds over the first 20 minutes.1
Things briefly fell apart in the third quarter, when the Chippewas exploded for a 34-12 run that erased the double-digit lead and sent the Bulls into the fourth quarter trailing, 55-51. That advantage grew to 57-51 when 6’5 CMU center Rochelle Norris opened the fourth with a bucket.
Rather than panic, however, UB went to work. A pair of Stone threes and two made free-throws by senior guard Jazmine Young gave the Bulls a 59-57 lead, and after Central Michigan clawed back in front, 61-59, with 6:05 left in the game, UB launched an 11-4 run to close out the comeback. Winfield scored six point over that stretch—including four from the line—and Stone hit another three to ice the first MAC win of the Burke era.
Cleaning it up: The free throws and threes were particularly important, because Buffalo hasn’t been great at either this season. HerHoops.com has the Bulls ranked 282nd and 271st in the country in those two categories, respectively, hitting just over 65 percent of free throw attempts and 27 percent of threes. Poor shooting from both lines cost UB the Kent State game earlier in the week. On Saturday, however, Buffalo made 11 of 13 freebies and shot seven of 22 from three—not a great percentage (31 percent), but twice as many attempts as Wednesday, and four more makes.
Iron Four ride again: Burke has dramatically shortened the bench in recent weeks due to injury and other considerations. The result has been heavy minutes for Stone, Winfield, Young, and Mashaire, each of whom played at least 34 minutes against the Chips—Mashaire was on the court for all 40.
Transferable skills: Respect for Emerita, by the way, not only for the endurance but for doing some of the dirty work that helps her guards get to the basket—she sets hard screens on the high pick and roll, and is showing more aggressiveness without the turnovers on offense or the fouls on defense. A Cincinnati transfer with the ability to go inside and knock down threes, Mashaire has could be to this year’s squad what Adebola Adeyeye was to last year’s MAC champs.
Double double-doubles: If it’s a UB game, then Winfield probably has a double-double. Her 14 points and 10 rebounds marked Winfield’s ninth double-double this season. She’s currently 10th in the country in rebounds, and the only member of the top 10 who isn’t at least six feet tall (by comparison, Taiyanna Jackson of Kansas is 6’6 and Oregon’s Phillipina Kyei is 6’8). Winfield was joined in double-double territory by Stone, who posted an impressive stat line of 24 points, 10 boards, six assists, and three steals.
Can’t teach size: Buffalo’s slightly-undersized backcourt of Mashaire, Salmons, Perkins, and freshman swing Hattie Ogden had a devil of a time with Norris, who scored 25 points on 12-of-13 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds in 33 minutes. Norris scored 15 second-half points, including 11 in CMU’s big third-quarter run, but was held without a bucket over the final, decisive 6:05 of the fourth.
From Coach Burke: “We proved for three quarters that we're an elite defensive team, and then one quarter, we just kind of lost ourselves a little bit. But that can be corrected,” Burke told The Buffalo News after the game. “We got stops. When you look at the stat sheet, we held them to eight points in the fourth (quarter) and 34 in the third. We are a team that, if we don't get stops, our offense is very stagnant. If we don't get stops and we don't get out in transition and at least play with tempo to start the possession, we tend to stand. We tend to get a little bit of a stagnant offense, so for us, it's all about getting stops.” Buffalo is currently 77th in the country and second in the MAC (behind Toledo) in points allowed per game with 59.2.
Up Next: Wednesday at Ohio, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Image from ohiobobcats.com
Ohio (2-11, 0-1) and Buffalo now belong to the same club: they’ve each lost to Kent State this season. The Bobcats, however, were routed by 16 points, 60-44, in their MAC home opener on Saturday.
Overall, Ohio shot 29 percent from the field, five percent from three and 79 percent from the line, while Kent State shot 40 percent from the field, 24 percent from three and 88 percent from the line. Kent State out-rebounded Ohio, 43-32, while also grabbing nine steals and dishing out 14 assists to the Bobcats; nine steals and five assist.
Individually, freshman guard Jaya McClure (Louisville, Ky.) led the way with 11 points, going 3-of-8 from the field, 1-of-5 from three and 4-of-4 from the line, while also grabbing three rebounds. Redshirt senior guard Caitlyn Kroll (Bridgeport, Ohio) added seven points and six rebounds, while redshirt junior forward Abby Garnett (Golden, Colo.) also scored seven points. Sophomore guard Yaya Felder (Hartford, Conn.) added six points, as did redshirt junior guard Jasmine Hale (Cincinnati, Ohio).
A good opportunity to get it done on the road against another opponent that’s down in the NET (Ohio’s #278). Buffalo, currently 207th in NCAA NET, fell 11 spots after beating the lowly Chippewas (#279). Whatever. All that matters in banking those MAC wins for March.
Horns up, gang. Have a great week.
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It may seem odd that two players who stand six feet tall only pulled down a two rebounds over the first 20 minutes. Consider, however, that Stone and Winfield—5’6 and 5’7, respectively—grabbed 12 combined boards, and a third guard, Jazmine Young, had three. With guards who rebound this well, there just aren’t a lot to go around.