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Women's hoops: Buffalo vs. Niagara

Another Big 4 clash tips off in about 15 minutes at Alumni Arena as the University at Buffalo (4-5) hosts Niagara (1-8).

The Bulls are coming off a long layoff for finals after dropping their last two games to Atlantic 10 teams -- Duquesne and St. Bonaventure. Kourtney Brown continues to be impressive for UB, ranking in the national top 25 in five different categories. She ranks fourth in the country in rebounding (12.3), ninth in field goal percentage (.602) and 14th in scoring (21.0). Her five double-doubles rank 10th in the country her 2.4 blocks ranks 25th.

Niagara will have a difficult time countering her with freshman forward Katie Gattuso sitting out tonight's game after a violation of team rules. Point guard Kayla Stroman continues to be sidelined with injury and is expected back for the beginning of MAAC season.

Check back for updates throughout the game.

First half:

15:53: Buffalo leads, 6-3. The Bulls have been off 11 days and it shows, but they seem to have found a bit of their groove. Niagara has had some open looks but missed wildly. 

11:57: The Bulls are finding room to work on offense taking a 15-7 lead. Buffalo is shooting 53.8 percent from the field (7 for 13) while Niagara is just 3 of 11 (27.3 percent). 

7:38: Liz Flooks had a pair of 3-pointers in that segment to help Niagara stay in the game, but the Bulls are still looking smooth with a 22-15 lead. Seven players are in the scoring column for the Bulls, led by Ashley Zuber's five points.

3:48: Niagara went on a 6-0 run to pull within one, 22-21. The Purple Eagles were poised to take a lead when Chanel Johnson was called for an intentional offensive foul as her elbow hit Buffalo's Brittany Hedderson and bloodied Hedderson's nose (for the second time of the game). Hedderson went to the bench for medical attention and Jessica Fortman hit both free throws for a 24-21 UB lead.

Halftime: Buffalo, 29-26. Niagara found some shooting touch and the Bulls lost a bit of theirs as the teams traded lopsided play in the half. The unusual note: Niagara was called for two intentional offensive fouls. The Bulls went 3-for-4 on the free throws but came up empty on the ensuing possessions.

Here's a stat you wouldn't expect in this game: Niagara has a 16-6 advantage in points in the paint.

Liz Flooks leads all scorers with eight points for Niagara while Shy Britton has seven. Jessica Fortman leads Buffalo with six points. Brown has four points -- only taking three shots in the half -- with nine rebounds and two blocked shots.

Second half

14:36: Buffalo leads, 31-26. Only Brown had a bucket in the first segment of the half as missed shots and turnovers were the theme out of the locker room.

11:32: And welcome Kourtney Brown to the game. A perfect lead pass from Jessica Fortman helped Brown score a traditional three-point play to give the Bulls a 10-point lead. Then, as the shot clock expired, Brown threw up a shot form outside that hit nothing but net. Brown has her 35th career double-double and the Bulls have a 38-26 lead.

11:06: Jessica Fortman hits a three-point play for a 41-26 lead. The Bulls are on a 12-0 run to start the second half. Niagara is 0-for-10 from the field in the second half.

6:56: UB leads, 47-33, getting 18 points in the paint and 11 second-chance points. Brown has 11 points and 14 rebounds while Fortman has 11 points. Niagara is shooting just 7.1 percent (1 for 14) for the half.

--- Amy Moritz

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