It’s no mystery.
Ohio University (24-5, 16-2 MAC) suffered both its Mid-American Conference losses to the University at Buffalo in its march to a second straight conference regular season women’s basketball championship. Wednesday, the same two teams will meet in the first of four MAC Tournament quarterfinal games at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Noon, Radio 1520).
How did the Bulls (17-13, 8-10 MAC) beat the Bobcats twice? Defense. Can they do it again?
In the two regular season meetings, UB’s slowed coach Bob Boldon’s high-flying Bobcats to a crawl. Ohio, which averaged 72.9 ppg, was held well below that in a 51-43 loss at Alumni Arena and again in a 70-58 loss in Athens, Ohio. Ohio’s three leading scorers – All-MAC guard Kiyana Black (18.4), junior guard Kiera Lampkins (14.2) and senior forward Lexie Baldwin (9.5) combined for only 68 points in the two games. Combined, they shot only 23.4 percent (18 for 77). Black, the Bobcats leading three-point threat, was only 5 for 24 from outside the arc and 7 of 33 overall. Needless to say, the Bulls need a defensive performance along those lines to move on to a noon game on Friday against the winner of the Wednesday’s Akron-Toledo game.
UB’s junior All-MAC forward Joanna Smith scored 16 and 21 points to lead the Bulls in the two games against Ohio. Smith made 7 of 15 from three-point range in the two victories. Sophomore guard Stephanie Reid also had 21 points in the win at Ohio.
UB has won five of its last six games with the loss coming at Akron. Since a Dec. 13 loss to Duquesne, Ohio has won 19 of 21, including 12 in a row before the Feb. 3 loss at UB.