The University at Buffalo women’s basketball team finds itself in a similar position to last season as it enters the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The Bulls last year became the first-ever team to hold the No. 8 seed and win the championship. This year UB holds the No. 7 seed in the 12-team conference.
UB will play a first-round playoff game at 5:30 p.m. Monday against 10th-seeded Bowling Green at Alumni Arena. Those two teams met in the first round at UB last year, too.
The Bulls went 8-10 in the MAC last year before beginning their run to the title. This season they went 10-8 in conference.
Just like last season, the Bulls are superb on defense, rebound well, have excellent depth and are one of the most athletic teams in the conference.
UB ranked No. 3 in the MAC in points allowed and No. 2 in field goal percentage allowed, both overall and from three-point range. The Bulls are No. 3 in steals. They’re the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the MAC.
Just like last season, the Bulls do not shoot the ball well.
Their ability to squeeze a little more out of their offense will determine their post-season fate.
UB ranks eighth in shooting percentage, 10th in three-point shooting percentage and 12th (last in the MAC) in free-throw percentage.
Bowling Green stands 8-22 overall and 4-14 in the MAC. The Falcons lost at home to the Bulls, 61-50, on Jan. 18, but upset the Bulls on UB’s Senior Day, 64-62, on Feb. 25. UB held a 53-45 lead entering the fourth quarter of that game but went cold, making just 3 of 16 shots in the fourth quarter.
Outside shooting is the Bulls Achilles heel. Last season, UB shot 30.2 percent from three-point range, eighth in the MAC. This season, UB shot just 28.8 percent from three-point range.
In their run to the MAC title last March, the UB women got hot. They shot 41.5 percent from three-point range, and their overall shooting percentage and free-throw shooting percentages also were almost 10 percentage points better than their regular-season averages.
Bowling Green has lost six of its last eight. The Falcons rank ninth in the MAC in scoring and ninth in points allowed. They are led by sophomore guards Carly Santoro (12.1 ppg) and Sydney Lambert (10.4 ppg). Those two combined for 35 points in the win at UB eight days ago.
UB beat Bowling Green in the first round of the MAC Tournament last year, 60-44.
The winner of Monday’s game earns a trip to Cleveland to play a quarterfinal game against No. 2-seed Ball State on Wednesday afternoon.