YPSILANTI, MI – Stingy defense led the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (17-7, 7-6 MAC) to a 56-52 road victory over the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Wednesday night at the Convocation Center. With the win, Buffalo improves to 13-0 on the season when holding their opponents to 59 points or less.
Trailing 50-49 midway through the final quarter, the Buffalo defense stepped up big time as they allowed just three points the rest of the way. Junior Stephanie Reid gave UB the 51-50 lead on a pretty layup in the paint and then the UB defense forced three straight EMU turnovers before Theresa Onwuka gave UB the 53-50 lead with under a minute to go. After an EMU layup cut UB's lead to one, Reid stepped up and drilled a pair of clutch free throws. On the Eagles final possession, JoAnna Smith played tight defense and forced a missed shot on the would-be three pointer and Katherine Ups secured the rebound and made a free throw to ice the game.
The Bulls opened up the first quarter on a 6-0 run as Cassie Oursler opened the scoring with a jumper before Mariah Suchan made a pair of free throws and Katherine Ups grabbed an offensive rebound and converted on the layup. Eastern Michigan stormed right back with a 6-0 run of their own to tie the game, 6-6. The Bulls then were able to go on a 5-0 run to take the 11-6 edge as JoAnna Smith connected on her first triple of the game and Oursler finished off a layup from Stephanie Reid. After the Eagles cut the UB lead to 13-12, Theresa Onwuka finished off a layup and Reid made a free throw to give the Bulls the 16-12 lead through 10 minutes.
After the Eagles got within two, 18-16, the Bulls went on a quick 7-2 run to regain their biggest lead of the first half as Onwuka connected on a three pointer and a layup and Reid made a layup of her own. The Eagles were able to close out the second quarter on a 10-1 run as they took the 28-26 lead into the locker room. The defensive first half saw the Bulls turn the ball over 12 times while the Eagles committed nine turnovers of their own.
Buffalo was able to open the third quarter on a quick 6-0 spurt to force an Eastern Michigan timeout as Smith netted a layup and jumper while Katherine Ups snagged an offensive rebound and finished off a layup to give UB the 32-28 lead. The Eagles cut the UB lead to one, 34-33, but Courtney Wilkins got hot off the bench as she netted a pair of triples to give UB their biggest lead of the game, 42-34. The Eagles closed out the quarter with a three pointer as the Bulls entered the fourth with the 42-37 lead.
The Bulls raced out to a nine-point lead just over two minutes into the final quarter as Reid finished off a pair of layups before Oursler drilled a jumper, making the score 48-39. EMU came storming back with a 11-1 run to take the lead with five minutes left in the game. The Bulls defense was able to buckle down and close out the game on a 7-2 run to secure the road win.
Reid was the best player on the court for the Bulls on Wednesday as she finished off her night with a team-high 14 points, eight assists and two steals in 38 minutes of work. With the eight assists, Reid now has a career-high 176 assists, ranking third in program history for assists in a season. The junior has notched at least eight assists in 11 games this season.
Onwuka came off the bench and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds while Oursler had a great game down low, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Smith finished with seven points while Katherine Ups had five points and four rebounds as she earned the start at small forward.
For the game, the Bulls outshot the Eagles 42.0% to 38.2% as they improved to 14-0 this season and 31-1 over the past two seasons when outshooting their opponents. UB also won the battle in the paint, 28-22, as they are now 15-0 this season when scoring more points in the paint that their opponents. Buffalo also won the battle of the boards 36-29 while grabbing 12 offensive rebounds. The Eagles forced 22 UB turnovers while the Buffalo defense forced 18 Eagles turnovers.
Buffalo will return home on Saturday afternoon for the first of three straight home games as they welcome the Akron Zips to Alumni Arena for a 1:00 pm tip. The game will air live on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call or can be heard on ESPN1520 with Matt Mattia on the call starting at 12:30 pm with the pre-game show.