Thursday, December 29, 2016

Buffalo 58, Fordham 54: Tempo-Free Recap

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

BRONX, NY - The first round of the Fordham Holiday Classic at Rose Hill Gym saw the host Rams with an arduous task, a 9-0 Buffalo team that presented a number of challenges. In a hotly contested game with the emphasis on defense, Buffalo kept their unblemished record with a 58-54 victory over the Rams in the tournament semifinal. Buffalo is now 10-0, while Fordham fell to 9-5.

First five possessions:
Buffalo: Missed FG, turnover, three-point FG, field goal, turnover
Fordham: Missed FG, field goal, missed FG, missed FG, three-point FG

The score was tied at 5 with 6:34 remaining in the quarter. Buffalo came out man-to-man as the Rams challenged 6-foot-3 center Cassie Oursler early by going inside looking for G’mrice Davis. That proved to be a tough assignment for Davis, but it did send Oursler a message - Fordham would not be intimidated by Buffalo’s size.

First half thoughts:
Buffalo entered a plus-13 on the glass. Naturally, the offensive boards are essential. Fordham has to limit second opportunities by the Bulls.

Really love the play of Buffalo point guard Stephanie Reid. As the cliche says, she does everything but sell hot dogs. Love her all out hustle.

Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley went deep into her rotation, employing a number of different combinations. While Davis struggled (0-for-8 from the field), Hannah Missry, Lauren Holden and Danielle Burns excelled on the perimeter, putting up 20 of the Rams’ 23 points.
Closing out is a priority for Buffalo. Every time the Bulls threatened to build on a lead, Fordham answered from downtown. The Rams finished the half shooting 6-of-11 from three. By contrast, they were 2-of-15 inside the arc.

The first four minutes of the second half did not start well for the visitors, as Missry buried an open corner trey. That was the lone Ram field goal, as Buffalo won the first four 8-5 to extend the lead to seven points.

As the half progressed, Fordham would not allow the visitors to build the lead beyond three possessions. The Rams maintained poise and cut their deficit to four points on several occasions. Davis played better offensively and Holden continuously came up big when the Rams needed it. With four minutes remaining, the Bulls owned a seven-point lead and were in the position to close it out. Fordham stayed around, but could never draw even. With seconds remaining, Burns drove to the basket and appeared to hit the tying score. An offensive foul was called on Burns with barely a tick left and the Rams were finished.

Possessions: 67
Offensive efficiency: Buffalo 87,  Fordham 81

Four Factors:
eFG%: Buffalo 43,  Fordham 45
Free Throw Rate: Buffalo 28, Fordham 23
Offensive Rebound%: Buffalo  33, Fordham 28
Turnover Rate: Buffalo 27, Fordham 27

Leading scorers and EF:
Buffalo- Stephanie Reid 21 points, EF 28
Fordham- G’mrice Davis 13 points, EF 33; Danielle Burns 13 points, EF 12

Burns committed five turnovers. Turnover rates were identical, with Buffalo having a slight 17-15 edge in points off turnovers. Buffalo managed just one more offensive board than Fordham. The damage was done in second half points, as the Bulls held an 11-3 advantage.

Final thoughts:
“They didn’t call a foul and you can’t depend on the refs. We had no timeouts left on that last play, but we practice special situations a lot and knew what to do. They are a very good defensive team and clogged the lane. We figured them out more the second half, but this hurts. We can look at film later and get ready for tomorrow.” - Danielle Burns of Fordham

“We practice those special situations as Danielle said. I was proud of our kids keeping their composure. I was super frustrated at the half. I thought at times she tried too hard the first half, and second half, let the game come to her. We played with focus and urgency the last six minutes. We need to do that the entire game. We have a game tomorrow, and in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, you have games three straight days. We will be ready. Midnight comes and the hurt should be over with a new day. They are such a good defensive team. I thought Lauren Holden did a really nice job for us. She was a scoring point guard in high school. She is maturing, playing a different style of point guard for us.” - Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley

“She did a great job. She controlled the tempo and put her team on her back. She was the key to the team.” - Gaitley on Stephanie Reid of Buffalo  

“A forty-minute game. We knew Fordham is tough to beat at home. We knew they could shoot the threes. We didn’t do the best defensive job on their shooters, but thankfully enough to win. We stayed zone the second half. They were able to shoot from the outside, but we felt the zone could cut off their inside penetration. Stephanie Reid is just amazing to coach. You do not have to sugar coat things with her. She has taken the team leadership, and what she brings to the table for herself, she does as well for the team. We are 10-0, and no one wins championships in December, January or February. We look to get better every day out. We wanted to hold them to 59. We felt if we could, we would have a chance to win. Holding them to 54 was great. Turnovers hurt. I tell the team to treat the ball like a diamond ring. You get one, don’t look to give it away. We have a one day turnaround but it’s the same in conference play.” - Buffalo coach Felisha Legette-Jack

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