BRONX, NY – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (10-1, 0-0 MAC) saw their program-best 10-0 start to the season come to an end on Friday afternoon in the Championship game of the Fordham Holiday Classic as the Bulls fell 74-62 to Harvard. The Crimson were able to hand UB their first loss of the season as they shot 54.2% from the floor for the game.
Trailing by seven entering the final quarter, sophomore Gabi Bade tried to single-handily bring the Bulls back in the final quarter but her great effort fell just short. With the score 58-47 in favor of the Crimson, Bade drilled a deep three pointer before hitting another one a minute later to make the score 59-53 in favor of Harvard. After a Cassie Oursler offensive rebound and layup, Bade drilled her third triple of the final quarter to bring UB within three, 61-58. Unfortunately for the Bulls, the Crimson didn't falter as they were able to hold onto the 74-62 victory as they made their free throws down the stretch.
Buffalo opened the scoring in the first quarter with a fast break layup by Cassie Oursler after a nice feed from Stephanie Reid before Mariah Suchan connected on a deep jumper to give the Bulls the 4-0 edge. After Harvard tied the score at 10, JoAnna Smith netted her first triple of the game to move into a tie for fourth place on the all-time three point charts with 140 career makes, giving UB the 13-10 edge. Harvard drilled a deep three to tie the game, 15-15, but Brittany Morrison found a loose ball and buried the layup to get the lead back. The Crimson drilled a buzzer beater to end the first with the 20-17 edge.
Entering the second quarter trailing by three, the Bulls were able to open the quarter on a 5-0 run as Theresa Onwuka and Summer Hemphill hit back-to-back layups before Onwuka connected on a free throw. The Crimson answered with the tying bucket but Oursler was able to convert on a layup after a great pass from Katherine Ups and then she made a free throw to give UB the 25-22 edge. The Crimson however finished off the quarter strong again as they closed it out with a 13-2 run as they held the Bulls scoreless over last 3:50 of play to take the 35-27 edge into the locker room.
The Bulls opened up the third quarter with a Reid jumper and a Smith three pointer to get within three, 35-32. The Crimson then went on a quick 9-2 run to take the lead back up to 44-34 and extended their lead out to 13 before Morrison finished off a layup to end the streak. After Smith drilled a three, Bade came off the bench and connected on a huge four-point play as she hit a three and a free throw to close the quarter as the Bulls trailed 52-45.
Despite a great fight by Bade in the final quarter, the Bulls defense couldn't contain the Harvard scoring attack as they went on to earn the 12-point victory and their 11th straight victory.
Oursler led all UB players with 15 points and nine rebounds while Bade came off the bench and netted 13 points while tying a career-best with four three pointers on the game. Reid was able to record her first double digit assist game of the season as she finished with eight points, 10 assists and three rebounds across 36 minutes. Smith netted nine points, three rebounds and three steals in the loss for the Bulls.
For the game, the Harvard Crimson shot lights out as they were able to connect on 54.2% of their shots compared to just 34.8% shooting by the Bulls. The Bulls were able to win the rebounding battle, 37-29, while also grabbing 19 offensive rebounds that they turned into 12 second chance points. Harvard forced 20 Buffalo turnovers and turned those into 21 points.
Buffalo will return home to Alumni Arena for their third game in three days on Saturday at 6:00 pm as they open Mid-American Conference action with a showdown against the Miami (OH) RedHawks.