Brown and Orange fall to Buffalo, 77-74

Buffalo women’s basketball coach Cheryl Dozier saw two simple things that helped her team defeat the Falcons 77-74 in overtime Saturday at Anderson Arena.

First, her best player repeatedly got the ball. Second, BG’s best player repeatedly racked up fouls.

Tiffany Bell, Buffalo’s 6-2 senior, created constant matchup problems for the Falcons around the basket.

According to Dozier, instead of passing out of double teams like she had in previous games, Bell muscled her way to the basket, drawing fouls repeatedly and getting to the free-throw line. Bell wound up going 12-for-13 from the line and finishing with a game-high 36 points.

Of course, fouls don’t only send the other team to the line. They also get your own team in foul trouble. Minutes after hitting a three-pointer to tie the game at 65 at the end of regulation, Falcon junior Fran Miller picked up her fifth foul, sending BG’s hottest shooter of the second half to the bench for the duration.

‘I think a big key for us was to get Francine out of the game,’ said Dozier, ‘Francine’s a great player. She’s proven that last year and again this year.’

‘That was big (to lose Miller),’ said BG coach Dee Knoblauch. ‘Frannie was playing great. Played a long time with three fouls, played a long time with four fouls…that hurt.’

After Miller fouled out with 3:58 to play in overtime, the Bulls went on an 11-6 run to end the game. The loss dropped the Falcons’ conference record to 4-3, into a tie with Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference’s Eastern Division.

‘I was definitely disappointed in myself,’ said Miller. ‘I wasn’t playing smart with my four fouls (prior to fouling out).’

Miller finished with a team-high 21 points, followed by senior Jackie Adlington with 14 and junior Dana Western with 13.

The Falcons never led in the game until sophomore Kim Griech hit a three-pointer to start overtime. Buffalo scored the first seven points of the game, the start of a 16-3 run before BG called a timeout, regrouped, and began fighting their way back into the game, closing to within three at 27-24 just before halftime.

‘I thought we made a really great comeback,’ said Knoblauch. ‘I think it hurt us starting off so slow. We got in a huge hole, I don’t know what our problem was, but then we decided to play…but we expended a lot of energy coming back.’

In the second half, the Falcons hung close, keeping the deficit in single digits. The Bulls’ high-water mark of the half came on a Bell lay-up with 9:55 to play to give Buffalo a 50-41 lead.

BG cut back into the Buffalo lead by starting to even out the free-throw disparity between the teams. The Falcons went to the line just once in the first half, the back end of a three-point play by Kim Griech, while, comparatively, Buffalo players practically had to take a number and stand in line, going 10-for-17 from the stripe.

BG got to the line much more often in the second half and made the most of it, going 8-for-9. Buffalo went 6-for-8 in the second half. However, the Falcon foul-line flurry in the second half couldn’t counterbalance Buffalo’s first half shooting clinic.

‘We had 22 fouls today,’ said Knoblauch. ‘We out-goaled them, we had 29 field goals to their 27, but they…made 22 free throws. We’ve had a real problem with fouls (lately). It’s killed us.’