The University of Akron women’s basketball team frittered away most of a 12-point lead before turning it on early in the second half and pulling away for a 75-57 Mid-American Conference victory over Buffalo on Saturday at Rhodes Arena.
Sina King led the way with 20 points and eight rebounds and forward Rachel Tecca (Archbishop Hoban) followed with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Coaches always preach about taking what the defense gives and that philosophy helped coach Jodi Kest’s team build a 12-point lead. The Zips (14-7, 5-3 MAC) came out bombing away to begin the game.
They either got complacent or greedy because those 3-pointers came with more difficulty and the clank of the hoop’s iron became a familiar sound.
The Bulls (7-14, 5-3) used a 13-2 run to zap the Zips’ momentum and cut the lead to 23-22.
The score was tied with just seconds left in the half, but point guard Kacie Cassell (three points, 10 assists), who set a single-season assists record with 157, hoisted a 3-pointer to give the Zips a 37-34 lead.
Kest said that helped to give her team a huge lift going into the locker room. It didn’t continue.
The Zips struggled to score from behind the arc well into the second half, missing their first 10 attempts.
“We do that a lot and our kids know they have a green light to shoot,” Kest said. “When you’re shooting well, it looks good.”
But the Zips didn’t look particularly good. They turned things around with fundamental, hard-nosed basketball.
“We told the kids, ‘Let’s move the ball around. Let’s get a better look. Let’s get a 15-footer. Let’s get the defense to shift a couple of times. Let’s get some easy shots off of that,’ ” Kest said.
More importantly, they turned to one of the team’s strengths, the inside game that Tecca provides. Good ball movement gave her easy looks inside and she delivered with 10 points in the second half.
The Zips picked their defensive game up as well, holding the Bulls to just 25 percent shooting in the second half and outscoring the Bulls 17-6 at one point and holding Buffalo without a field goal for nearly six minutes.
“The second half, our defensive effort was outstanding,” Kest said. “We limited them to very few offensive rebounds.”