BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team was unable to hold on to a late three-point lead, falling in overtime to Northern Illinois, 61-53. The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Bulls as they fall to 13-11 on the season and 6-5 in the MAC.
The Bulls held their largest lead of the game in the first half as they turned an early 16-10 deficit into a 22-16 advantage with a 12-0 run. Six of those points came on back-to-back three pointers from sophomore Nicki Hopkins. The Bulls continued to lead into the half, 25-21.
The second half was a back and forth affair with the lead changing eight times and neither team leading by more than four points. The Huskies led 46-42 with 5:57 to go in the half when the Bulls would go on a 7-0 run over the next five and a half minutes. The Bulls would go on to take a 49-46 lead with just 24 second left following two free throws from Brittany Hedderson, but NIU's Marke Freeman drew a foul on a three pointer with just six seconds left and hit all three shots to tie the game up. The Bulls had one more shot, but could not convert on a Jessica Fortman three pointer, sending the game into overtime.
The Huskies dominated the overtime period, scoring the first four points and then hitting clutch free throws. Northern Illinois went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the overtime period.
"We did a very poor job on the glass in the second half and overtime and that is why we lost the game," said head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald. "Give Northern credit though; they hit some big free throws down the stretch."
The Bulls were led by Kourtney Brown, who was honored before the game as the school's all-time leading scorer. Brown had 17 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks and four assists. The double-double was the 45th in her career. Hedderson finished with 15 points and five rebounds, while Ashley Zuber had six points and three assists. Hopkins had six points off the bench, while junior Beth Christensen added four points, five rebounds, a block and two steals.
The Huskies were led by 18 points from Freeman, who also had nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. Kim Davis added 14 points and Ebony Ellis had 10. Both players finished with six rebounds.
The Bulls remain home on Wednesday night as they begin their second round of games against teams from the MAC East with Akron. Tipoff with the Zips is set for 7:00 pm.