BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team allowed just nine points in the opening half, its fewest since joining the Mid-American Conference, and scored a season-high 81 points as it led wire-to-wire in defeating Kent State, 81-45, Sunday afternoon at Alumni Arena. The win improves UB to 10-18 and 8-7 in the MAC. The Bulls have now surpassed their win total from last season and doubled their conference victories from a year ago.
The Bulls opened the game on a 17-0 run as the Golden Flashes did not find the scoring column until the 11:54 mark of the first half. UB was moving the ball well early as senior Nicki Hopkins made the most of her Senior Day, recording three of her career-high seven assists during the game-opening run. The Bulls got their lead up to 20 following a jumper from Margeaux Gupilan at the 7:41 mark and Kent State hit just one more shot the entire half, a three pointer with 6:28 left. UB ended the half on a mini 5-0 run to take a 31-9 lead into the break. It was the first time since joining the MAC that UB had allowed single-digit points in the first half.
It was another dominating first half performance defensively in conference play as UB already had first halves of allowing 18, 15, 15, 15 and 14.
In the second half, it was all about the UB offense, which scored 50 points in the final 20 minutes, a season-high for one half and the most points scored in a half by the Bulls since last season when they defeated Kent State on Feb. 21. The Bulls did most of their damage from behind the arc as they shot 7-of-11 from three-point range in the half. The Golden Flashes never got closer than 23 in the second half as Buffalo took its first 30-point leas following a jumper from Cherridy Thornton at the 12:31 mark.
Buffalo got its lead up to 37 after a three-pointer from freshman Karin Moss, tying its largest lead of the season, which it set against Ohio back on Jan. 13. The 81 points scored by Buffalo is its highest of the season.
"We were really talking and communicating out there defensively and that is where it all starts, on the defensive end of the floor," said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. "We all wanted to win this game, especially for Nicki on her Senior Day, and I thought everyone did their job today."
The Bulls finished with a balanced scoring effort that included four players in double figures and three others that had at least eight points. Freshman Mackenzie Loesing led all scorers with 17 points, playing just 20 minutes. She also added a game-high four steals. Gupilan joined a pair of players off the bench with 11 points as she added three assists and two steals in just 19 minutes of action. Moss and Thornton also finished with 11 points, leading to 33 bench points.
Redshirt sophomore Kristen Sharkey finished with nine points and a game-high eight rebounds, while sophomore Sloane Walton also finished with nine points on three shots from behind the arc. Sophomore Christa Baccas added eight points, six rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals.
In addition to the career-high seven assists for Hopkins, she also had a career night on the boards finishing with five rebounds and three points. Junior Rachel Bantelman tied her career-high with six rebounds off the bench, while sophomore Kaila Callender also gave quality minutes, finishing with two points, a rebound and two assists in eight minutes. Fellow sophomore Kasheema Besley saw nine minutes and recorded a rebounds and an assist. All 11 players that dressed saw at least eight minutes of action, with nine of them finding the scoring column.
Kent State (3-25, 1-14) shot just 25.5% percent from the floor and was led by 12 points from Ashley Evans and 11 points from Trisha Krewson.
The Bulls will conclude the regular season on Wednesday night when they host Akron at 7:00 pm. UB has also locked up a first round home game in the upcoming MAC Tournament and will be no worse than the #7 seed. That will take place on Saturday afternoon.