Seniors have carried the University at Buffalo women's basketball team all season, so why would Saturday be any different?
In their final regular-season game at Alumni Arena, guard Mari McClure and center Tiffany Bell combined for 52 points to lead the Bulls to a 76-66 victory over Bowling Green.
UB (19-7, 10-5) might have another home game if it hosts a Mid-American Conference Tournament contest.
The Bulls can earn a first-round bye as a top-three seed if they win at Toledo (21-5, 14-1) Wednesday.
But on Saturday, the focus was on beating Bowling Green (10-16, 6-9) and giving McClure, Bell and fellow seniors Sonia Ortega and Tara Perrier a proper sendoff.
"You couldn't ask for anything better," UB coach Cheryl Dozier of her four seniors. "These are four very special people who have laid the foundation for something great here."
It was fitting that McClure and Bell led the way Saturday, for they have been the backbone of the UB program.
They have become one of the best duos in the MAC by doing what they did against Bowling Green.
McClure finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes. Bell added 21 points and eight boards in 38 minutes.
"We've played together for four years now, so it's like we don't have to communicate on some things," said McClure, who was 8 of 13 from the field and 12 of 14 at the foul line. "We just give each other the eye, and there we go."
"I really love playing with her," Bell said. "I think that's the sad part about being a senior because we won't be able to play together after this season."
Bell and McClure combined for 30 points while making 10 of 15 shots to lead UB to a 41-30 advantage at halftime.
With Bowling Green's zone collapsing around Bell inside, McClure made the Falcons pay from the perimeter. She scored 13 points six minutes into the game to help the Bulls take an early 20-9 lead.
McClure's marksmanship opened the lane for Bell, who found little resistance once she established position in the low post.
The Bulls showed nice ball movement on offense, resulting in 11 assists on 14 first-half field goals. Their defense forced Bowling Green to miss several high-percentage shots, and the visitors also committed 13 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
"Buffalo did a good job defensively taking away our shooters," said Bowling Green coach Dee Knoblauch.
Still, UB never applied a knockout punch in the first half. After building a 39-21 lead, the Bulls' offense got stale over the last three minutes after McClure went the bench with two fouls.
UB couldn't get anything going in the second half either. Instead of taking the first open shot, the Bulls tried to force the ball inside. Even when passes found their target, the shooter couldn't convert.
Bell had a particularly miserable second half. She missed seven of eight shots from close range.
"We were getting good shots inside," Dozier said. "We just didn't knock shots down. The one thing is that when your offense is cold you've got to continue to play defense. At this late stage of the season, you've got to find a way to win and a way to gut games out."
Thanks to some good defense and poor shooting by Bowling Green, the Bulls never seemed to be in danger of losing.
But things got pretty interesting in the final minutes.
Angie Farmer scored eight of her 12 points during a 12-2 Bowling Green run to cut UB's lead to 60-54 with 3:26 remaining.
But McClure responded with a three-point play and an off-balance jumper as the Bulls rebuilt their lead to 65-54 with 2:28 left. UB sealed the win with solid free-throw shooting.
"Bowling Green is a team you don't want to give momentum because they can shot it from anywhere, they can penetrate and shoot free throws," McClure said.
"I thought that possession was really important. When I got fouled, it changed the momentum a little."
Sophomore forward Rachel Martin added 10 points for UB. Francine Miller led Bowling Green with 14 points.