Fighting an uphill battle all the way before a spirited crowd of 3,854 at Alumni Arena, the University at Buffalo came almost all the way back from a 20-point first half deficit before falling to defending conference women's basketball champion Central Michigan, 100-95, on Saturday afternoon.
It may not have been the prettiest performance of the season for the Bulls but was perhaps the grittiest.
UB trailed 51-30 with 44 seconds left in the first half. Then the came out in the last two quarters and scored a season-high 61 points for the half and finished with season high in points.
The Bulls' last lead in the game was 11-10 with 4:20 to go in the opening quarter. UB dug in the second half and began to cut into the Chippewas' lead, but found it difficult getting the margin down to single digits. The Bulls still trailed by 10, 90-80 with 2:14 left in the game.
When you have Cierra Dillard and Summer Hemphill on your side you always seem to have a chance. Two free throws by Dillard, her three-point play made ot 90-85. Two more foul shots by Dillard and her layup cut the deficit to 94-89 with 1:31 left. Then she hit a 3-pointer with 1:05 to go to make it 96-92 and a 3-pointer by Hemphill after a Central turnover made it 96-95 with 48 seconds left.
UB had a chance to tie with 10 seconds left but Dillard missed a 3-pointer.
Despite her heroics, Dillard did not have a good shooting game before fouling out with 4 seconds to play. She was 8 fo 25 on field oal attempts, 2 of 9 on 3-pointers and missed seven of 18 free throws. She scored 20 of her 29 points in the fourth quarter. Also she added nine rebounds, seven assists and seven steals. The senior moved into 15th place on the UB all-time scoring list and also set the single-season UB record for free throws attempted at 207.
Hemphill had 21 points and nine rebounds.
Presley Hudson led the Chips with 28 points. Reyna Frost had 23 points and Kyra Bussell came off the bench for 20 points.
UB made more field goals, had more rebounds and was plus-nine in the turnover department. But Central made five more 3-pointers and four more free throws.
UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack, who received one of the three technical fouls assessed in the game, was upset with the officiating. She was penalized for her language.
"I didn’t know that was a bad word," Legette-Jack said. "It’s becoming very disheartening on what it’s come to. I asked the officials that if I get to a point where I am too emotionally charged for you, just say this is what I’m talking about, coach, I never got that opportunity.
"These young ladies played their tails off and they really earned the right to have success today. …"
The loss left UB (16-7, 8-4 MAC) in third place in the conference’s East Division behind Miami (10-2) and Ohio U. (10-3), but with a single game left with each. Central Michigan leads the West Division with a 9-3 conference mark.
Canisius women fall
Marist ran off to an 11-0 lead in the game’s first 4 minutes and 19 seconds and went on to 66-50 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory over the Golden Griffins on Saturday night at the McCann Center in Poughkeepsie.
It was the seventh time in a row the Red Foxes have defeated Canisius.
Marist led 17-7 after the opening quarter and kept pouring it on, leading by as many as 27 points (38-11) by the end of the first half.
D’Jhai Patterson-Ricks led the Griffs with 13 points. Rebekah Hand had 18 points and Alama Gilmer 12 for Marist.
The loss dropped Canisius to 9-16 overall and 7-7 in conference play. Third-place Marist is 18-8, 10-4 in the MAAC behind Quinnipiac and
NU women lose at Siena
Maggie McIntyre led Niagara with 19 points and a career-high six steals in a 67-61 MAAC loss to Siena in Loudonville.
A 3-pointer by McIntyre had Niagara down by two points, 63-61 with 21 seconds left but the Saints held on. Siena never led more than eight points in the tight game.
Adila Gathers had 10 rebounds and Jai Moore 11 points for Niagara.
Three Big 4 teams on Sunday slate
Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure all have home conference games at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The Golden Griffins, who have moved into first place in the MAAC with three straight conference wins for a 9-4 record, will face Manhattan at the Koessler Athletic Center. It will be the only regular season meeting between the Griffs and the Jaspers.
The Purple Eagles, who have suffered narrow losses to Iona and Manhattan, will face Fairfield at 2 p.m. in the Gallagher Center.
The Bonnies, in a rare three-game home losing streak, will try to even their season series with George Mason in their Atlantic 10 Conference game at the Reilly Center. The Patriots won the first meeting.
A Bona victory would give coach Mark Schmidt a school record for men’s basketball victories. He is currently tied with Larry Weise at 202.
The Bonnies defeated George Mason, 68-53, on Jan. 6.