BUFFALO, NY - It was a rollercoaster of emotions for the women's basketball team Saturday afternoon, who yielded a big lead to the visiting Eagles of Eastern Michigan (12-4, 2-3 MAC) late in the second half but would storm off victorious on a game-winning jumper from Mackenzie Loesing with 2.5 seconds left in overtime to seal an 84-83 win. Loesing finished with 26 points, and Christa Baccas matched career highs in points (18) and rebounds (15) for Buffalo (9-7, 2-3 MAC).
The Eagles erased a 19-point advantage for UB with 10 minutes to go to force overtime, and led 75-73 with 3:35 in the extra period. Margeaux Gupilan would hit a miraculous bank-shot three from the corner to put the Bulls ahead, but again it would trail, this time 81-80, after a pair of made free throws by EMU.
A Kristen Sharkey jumper on one end was then answered by two more made free throws with just 15 seconds left to put the visitors up 83-82. Loesing took the ball at the right side and drove in but passed up a contested layup and would instead sweep across the baseline. She then turned with a jumper that rolled in for the lead with just 2.5 seconds to play.
"I knew that our team needed me to take the ball to the hole, and in that last possession I saw the opportunity and I took it," said Loesing, who finished with 26 points for her sixth game with over 20 points this season.
In the overtime period alone, there were four ties and six lead changes.
The game started on a much slower pace, with the Bulls only up 22-20 with 4:44 left in the opening half. A shooting slump from the Eagles coupled with a solid half of rebounding for UB would trigger an 18-3 run that boosted the team to a 40-28 lead at halftime.
Coming out of the break, the Eagles would strike from deep to pull the game close again thanks to an 11-1 run just three minutes in. After a well-timed timeout for the Bulls, the offense woke up again, just as it had to close out the first half, and went on a 19-2 run from the timeout to the 10:02 mark to build what would be its biggest lead of the day. A gutty comeback from EMU would ultimately tie the game back up with 4.5 seconds in regulation to set up the dramatic overtime.
The win was the team's second straight in Mid-American Conference play, and the first overtime win since beating Oakland in December of 2011. It snapped a seven-game overtime losing streak to MAC opponents that dates back to 2003.
"What we discovered today was two teams that did not want to walk away losing, but at the end of the day we played inspired basketball as a unit," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said.
Baccas was a force to be reckoned with all afternoon, nearly posting a double-double by halftime. She would have to wait until early in the second half to clinch her third straight double-double, and finished with three blocks and four steals to go with her career highs in points and rebounds. Also quietly dominating down low was Sharkey, who scored 17 points with 14 rebounds as she and Baccas combined to hit 14-22 attempts in the game.
The team ends the home stand with a 2-1 record, and will now head back West for next week's MAC schedule. The team faces Northern Illinois on Thursday before a Sunday matchup against Ball State. Tip off in DeKalb is set for 7 pm.