They are not into moral victories and after Saturday, the University at Buffalo’s women’s basketball record reads a disappointing 2-10.
The Bulls would like some wins to show for their improvement, but there were plenty of signs of progress in their 91-77 loss to Pittsburgh in front of 1,123 at Alumni Arena.
Buffalo had cut Pitt’s 16-point first half lead to five midway through the second but couldn’t get over the hump. They outrebounded the Panthers. Had more points off turnovers and more second-chance points. They even had more points in the paint.
But Buffalo went just 10 of 20 from the free throw line and missed seven straight at one point in the second half to dash their upset hopes.
“We’re coming together as a team,” junior point guard Margeaux Gupilan said. “From where were started at the beginning of the season, we’ve developed more chemistry. We still have a lot to work on but the progress has been there. I think the problem was our free throws. If we hit our free throws we wouldn’t have been trying to play 10 times harder and get it back all at once.”
Pitt (8-4) went up by as many as 16, 33-17, in the first half and enjoyed a 44-31 lead at the break.
Three-pointers from Cherridy Thornton and Mackenzie Loesing helped the Bulls get the game back into single digits.
A steal by Christa Baccas turned into a fastbreak layup for Loesing which made it 59-53. Then Baccas was fouled and went to the line. She hit her first free throw to cut the lead to 59-54 with 13:09 to play. She missed the next one, the first of seven straight misses by the Bulls. The score stayed at 59-54 for three minutes until Brianna Kiesel hit a pair of foul shots for Pitt.
“I really thought this was a great experience for us,” Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. “We knew this was a good team and this is a game of peaks and valleys, up and downs. It’s a game of runs and they had their run and it was over. I think we knew they’d come back. [Buffalo’s] Felisha [Legette-Jack] is a good coach. We know that you don’t go into someone else’s gym and they’ll roll over. Not today.”
The Panthers shot 60 percent from the field (21 of 35) and had five players in double figures, led by Kiesel who had 21 while Loliya Briggs scored 18 off the bench.
Thornton led the Bulls with 18 points off the bench, including going 4 of 11 from three-point range, while Loesing had 16 points. Baccas added 13 points with nine rebounds.
“We didn’t get key rebounds or make free throws,” UB’s Legette-Jack said. “As a team, we’ve got to get better at handling the things we can control. We can control the free throw line and we can control how we box out. We didn’t box out. That’s a problem.
“I like the makeup of this team. No matter what the calls are or what else is going on, we’re in control of our enthusiasm, our intensity and our purpose. I’m really enjoying this team. I’d like them to learn a little faster and have some victories to show for the lessons we’ve learned. We’re not satisfied. I can say that. We’re not satisfied.”
The Bulls had 42 points in the paint, 13 second-chance points and scored 28 points off 18 Pitt turnovers.
The Bulls close their non-conference schedule at Cornell on Jan. 5.