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Meunier leading Bulls to a big finish

In all honesty, it was shaping up to be a dismal season for the University at Buffalo women's basketball team.

After a decent December, the team tumbled into problems -- fueled by inconsistency and injury -- and the Bulls fell into a seven-game losing skid.

But after stumbling through the final third of the season the last two years, Brooke Meunier was not going to endure that pain again.

On Saturday afternoon, the senior guard turned in career-high 28 points to guide her team to a 72-62 win over Akron.

The 1,337 in Alumni Arena saw the Bulls overcome a slow start and hold off a second-half Akron run for their third win in the last four games.

The win also clinched third place in the Mid-American Conference East Division, earning the Bulls a home playoff game for the first time since the 2002-03 season. While the Bulls still sit with a losing record -- 10-16 overall, 5-10 in the MAC -- they seem to have settled into their own at the best time of the season.

"In the past we would have let the slide happen," said Meunier, honored as the lone senior before the game. "Everyone who was back from last year got together and said that we weren't going to let the snowball happen again this year. The coaches and the players were all positive, and we've been playing with a lot of confidence."

Akron jumped to a 12-2 lead, but the Bulls mounted an 8-0 run to get back into the game and took a 34-30 lead into halftime.

The Bulls led by nine points, 44-35, with 15:52 left to play, but Akron converted some turnovers to close the gap to three. It was 49-46 with about nine minutes left before Buffalo went on a 7-0 run to extend its lead to double digits, 59-49, for the first time. The Bulls maintained that advantage the rest of the way.

Meunier hit 6 of 9 three-point attempts -- several off-balance. She was 8 for 14 from the field and hit all six free throws.

"That was one of the best performances by a player I've seen in all my years of coaching," UB coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said.

"I've been in the program with Brooke for two years," said sophomore center Heather Turner, "and every day she plays hard and fights hard. She's never given up on herself or on her teammates."

Complementing Meunier's performance -- which included solid, gritty defense -- was Turner's play in the low post. Turner struggled in the first half but found her groove in the second to finish with 21 points and 12 rebounds -- her seventh double-double of the year.

The Bulls end the regular season at home Tuesday against Kent State, then host Toledo at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the MAC playoffs.


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