Bulls Claim Season Opener At Niagara, 65-54
LEWISTON, NY – Fueled by a double-double from senior Brittany Hedderson, the Bulls led wire-to-wire in defeating Niagara on Friday evening, 65-54. The victory by the Bulls was their seventh straight over the Purple Eagles and the third straight year that they have won their season opener.
The Bulls went up by six just four and a half minutes in on a pair of free throws from senior Ephesia Holmes. UB would get its lead up to as a many as 10 in the opening half as a Hedderson three pointer gave the Bulls a 19-9 advantage. Niagara pulled to within four, but another Hedderson triple with just 18 second left in the half gave the Bulls a seven-point lead at the break.
The Bulls built their lead up to 14 over the first 10 minutes of the second half, leading 41-27 after a jumper from redshirt sophomore Nytor Longar. The Purple Eagles made a run though, pulling within five at 45-40, but the Bulls went on to respond with an 8-1 run. The Bulls would go on to lead by double figures for the rest of the night.
"I thought we got some great minutes out of those starters who haven't been used to starting," said head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald. "In Ephesia and Teresa's case, they have been here four years and they are ready to take that starting role."
Hedderson led the way with 19 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. She also added five assists and a steal. Longar, who picked up her first career start after missing all of last season, finished with a career-high 11 points, adding five rebounds, a block and three steals. Senior Beth Christensen played 37 minutes, finishing with six points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal.
The Bulls, who were looking to replace Ashley Zuber at the point, got solid minutes out of both of their point guards. Holmes had nine points, five rebounds and three assists, while sophomore Margeaux Gupilan added four points in 10 minutes. Sophomore Rachel Bantelman added four points and two rebounds in 11 minutes, while junior Nicki Hopkins finished with three points. The Bulls also got 12 minutes out of freshman Christa Baccas, who had two rebounds and a blocked shot.
The Bulls remain on the road Monday night as they head to Duquesne. Tip off is set for 7:00 pm.