BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team fell to Ohio 74-71 in overtime to open conference play. With the loss the Bulls fall to 8-4 on the year and 0-1 in conference action.
The Bulls offense started strong in the first quarter, going 2-4 from beyond the arc and connecting on 6-13 shots from the floor to close the quarter on a 9-3 run and take a 16-10 lead. Buffalo held the Bobcats to just 1-11 FG in the opening frame.
A Brittany Morrison bucket extended the run to 11-3 to start the second quarter and a three-pointer by Hanna Hall extended the lead to 12 with 6:07 to play in the first half. Ohio was held without a basket for 3:20 until a basket by Cece Hooks cut the lead to 10 with 5:23 to go. Despite playing the majority of the quarter without senior Cierra Dillard who was on the bench with three fouls, UB finished strong on a drive by Theresa Onwuka to take a 30-20 lead into the break.
The Bulls shot 12-24 (50%) from the floor and 3-9 from beyond the arc, while converting on 3-4 free throw attempts in the first half.
The potent Ohio offense came to life in the third quarter, outscoring Buffalo 22-17. After a Gabby Burris jumper cut the Buffalo lead to four, the teams traded blows from beyond the arc as Dillard knocked down a three on one end and Burris answered on the other end with a triple of her own to cut the lead back to four. The Bulls would close the quarter in style as Dillard found Courtney Wilkins in the corner for a three at the buzzer to give Buffalo a 47-42 lead.
The Bobcats would take their first lead of the game in the fourth off a layup by Amani Burke to go up 51-50 but the Bulls would regain the lead on a triple from Hanna Hall and a bucket in the paint by Summer Hemphill. Later, with Buffalo down three, Dillard found Hall in the corner for three to tie the game 62-62. Then, trailing by three with 15 seconds to play, Hall came up big once again, draining a long three from the top of the key to tie the game 66-66. A last second shot by Dominique Doseck fell short and the two teams headed to overtime.
Offense was at a premium in the overtime period, with the first field goal coming on a layup by Burke to put Ohio up 71-69 with 34 seconds remaining. The game would come down to free throws as Ohio went 6-8 from the charity stripe to seal the victory.
"We played at their pace," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "We thought that we were in better shape than them and we started walking the ball up the floor and not pushing and running. We have people that could have come off of the bench and released that energy if we wanted to. I think that we have a stronger bench and when you slow the game down like we did they're going to catch up. We stopped talking defensively and the next thing you know we are in a dog fight"
Dillard led Buffalo in scoring with 15 pts, six rebounds and seven assists, however it was the first time this season that she was held below 20 points.
Also in double figures, Hemphill had a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, Hall added 12 points, going 4-9 from beyond the arc and chipping in seven assists and Onwuka finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Buffalo outshot and outrebounded Ohio overall but were undone by a season-high 29 turnovers.
The Bulls will hit the road for the first of two contests away from Alumni Arena on Wednesday, January 9th as they travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan to take on Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m.