Bengals open with tourney win

Kala Crawford takes the ball up court during Saturdays 69-63 tournament championship victory over Concordia-Moorhead Saturday afternoon.

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Kala Crawford takes the ball up court during Saturday’s 69-63 tournament championship victory over Concordia-Moorhead Saturday afternoon.

Last weekend was quite the homecoming for Buffalo State women’s basketball forward Staci McElroy.

In her first home games in over two years, McElroy led the Bengals to a title in the Betty Abgott Invitational to open the 2013 season over the weekend at the Sports Arena. She earned tournament MVP honors for her efforts.

“It feels great to be able to come back after taking a year off and still be able to contribute and help the team out,” McElroy said.

The Bengals opened up their season Friday by beating Penn State-Harrisburg, 75-52, and defeating Concordia-Moorhead, 69-63, Saturday to win the invitational.

Buffalo State dominated Penn State-Harrisburg in the first game of the tournament and never trailed.

After the Bengals took a 37-24 lead into halftime, the Lions made a run early in the second half to cut it the lead to 11. They couldn’t get any closer, however, and Buffalo State closed out its 24-point victory with ease.

Buffalo State’s work in the key was vital to its success Friday. Forwards Bianca Smiley and Ashley Wallace combined for seven offensive rebounds for the Bengals.

Junior guard Olivia Luciani led the way for the Bengals with 17 points and was 3 for 3 from the 3-point line.

Buffalo State coach Sue Roarke said she was pleased with her team’s ability to finish around the basket and make clutch shots.

The win gave the Bengals confidence heading into the championship game against a tough Concordia-Moorhead team that won its game Friday night by 46 points.

The game started out in an almost dead heat until Buffalo State broke the early 12-12 tie with a 21-1 run. Buffalo State pushed the lead to 25 with over 12 minutes remaining in the game, but Concordia went on a 17-1 run of its own to make the game close down the stretch.

It was a one-point game with just under two minutes left when Luciani nailed a 3-pointer that put a dagger in Concordia and gave Buffalo State a 69-63 victory to start the season 2-0.

Wallace and Smiley controlled the paint for the second straight game by both posting a double-double.

Buffalo State also held a distinct advantage in fast-break points as they outscored the Cobbers, 10-0, in the first half in that category.

McElroy led Buffalo State with 17 points and had six rebounds. Wallace netted 13 points and had 10 boards while Smiley recorded 11 points and 11 rebounds. Luciani also chipped in 13 points for the Bengals.

Team captain Kelly Kell said she was happy with both wins and said it was a great way to start off the season.

“I think the game on Saturday really tested us,” Kell said. “It showed us what we need to work on and we’re really optimistic for the rest of the season.”

Although the Bengals did come out with two wins, Kell said there are still some flaws that the team needs to work on going forward this season.

“(We) definitely need to work on our press breaker,” Kell said. “Also, we need to keep our composure. It is something we are absolutely going to focus on in practice this week.”


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