The 4-seeded Buffalo Bulls women's basketball team's stint in the 2014 MAC Tournament didn't last long. The Bulls were bounced out in their first game, falling to No. 5 Ball State 74-60 Thursday afternoon.
The Cardinals rode Nathalie Fontaine's 17 points and eight rebounds to a resounding victory. The Cardinals were able to pull away late in the game as Buffalo's shooters fell into an awful cold streak in the second half, and with the Bulls bigs in foul trouble, the Cardinals stepped on the gas and slammed the door shut.
The rematch of their regular season match up lived up to be just as exciting, with the teams putting on a hell of a show in the first half, but Buffalo just couldn't get the bounces to go its way in the second half. The Bulls shot a miserable 10-for-44 in the second half, forcing shots and hurrying the offense and Ball State increased the pressure.
The game started out evenly matched. Alexus Malone and Kristen Sharkey dominated down low for the Bulls, while Fontaine led an incredibly balanced offensive attack from the Cardinals. At halftime Ball State held a four-point lead in a game that looked to be up for grabs by either team. Then the second half started.
Buffalo found itself missing some crucial shots early in the half, and as the balls bounced out of the rim, the desperation peaked. Buffalo was able to battle back, keeping things interesting for most of the half, but as Ball State guards Shelbie Justice and Brandy Woody heated up late in the half, the Bulls were on their last hopes. Woody and Justice scored 14 and 15 respectively, each notching four rebounds.
Malone spent the second half in foul trouble, before eventually fouling out, and Sharkey's hot hand cooled dramatically leaving the Bulls with no real offensive presence in the paint. Christa Baccas was a force on the defensive end, swatting five shots, but went 1-for-6 from the floor. Malone and Sharkey added 11 points a piece, mostly in the first half, and had combined for 20 rebounds.
Mackenzie Loesing's woeful 4-for-20 effort from the field epitomized the Bulls style of play in the second half: rushed, and sloppy.
With the win Ball State has advanced to the semifinals and will face No. 1 seed Bowling Green Friday afternoon. The Cardinals have looked fantastic in their three games so far, and should put up quite a fight against the MAC's top team.