BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (17-7, 7-6 MAC) welcomes the Akron Zips on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm for their first of three straight home games at Alumni Arena. UB will be looking for their 11th home victory of the season, most in a season since 2000-01.
Saturday's game will air live on ESPN3 at 1:00 pm with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call or it can be listened to on the radio at ESPN1520 with Matt Mattia on the call starting at 12:30 pm with the pre-game show.
UB WELCOMES AKRON IN 1ST OF THREE STRAIGHT AT HOME
Buffalo returns home on Saturday afternoon for their first of three straight at Alumni Arena as they welcome the Akron Zips. The Akron Zips enter Saturday's game with a 9-15 overall record and a 2-11 MAC mark. UB will aim for their 11th home win of the season as tip is set for 1:00 pm and the game will be followed by the UB men's game vs. Miami (OH) at 3:30 pm. You can watch the game live on ESPN3 starting at 1:00 pm or you can tune your radio to ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will be on the call starting at 12:30 pm with the pre-game show.
BULLS SNEAK PAST EMU ON THE ROAD ON WEDNESDAY
The stingy Buffalo defense helped lift the Bulls to their seventh MAC win of the season on Wednesday night on the road at Eastern Michigan, 56-52. The Bulls held the Eagles to just 38.2% shooting for the game while forcing 18 Eastern Michigan turnovers in the win. Junior point guard Stephanie Reid had a solid night for the Bulls as she led the team with 14 points, eight assists and two steals while freshman Theresa Onwuka came off the bench and supplied the Bulls with 12 points and seven rebounds. UB improved to 13-0 this season when holding their opponents to 59 points or less.
This marks the 25th meeting of all-time between the two programs with both sides deadlocked, 22-22. The inaugural game between the Bulls and the Zips took place on Feb. 2, 1992. They have played at least two times annually since 1998-99. From the 1999-2000 season to 2007-08, the Bulls won 15 of 18 contests played. Akron won two of the three meetings last season with the lone Buffalo victory coming in the MAC semifinal game to help lift UB to their first MAC Championship.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Bulls will be home for their next three MAC games and this is a good sign as UB owns a 14-3 record at Alumni Arena over their last 17 games. Buffalo is 10-3 on their home court so far this season, the most wins at home since 2000-01 when they earned 12 home wins. Over the past 3+ seasons, UB owns a 36-17 record in from of their home crowd and they haven't lost more than five games in a season at Alumni Arena. At home this season, UB is averaging 71.2 points while allowing their opponents to average just 60.0 points and 36.9% shooting from the floor. This marks the third three-game homestand of the season with the Bulls going 6-0 in the other two scenerios.
Junior point guard Stephanie Reid has been facilitating at a high level since the start of the season and it is resulting in one of the best seasons by a point guard in UB history. The Australia native currently ranks 5th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.3 APG) while ranking 2nd in the MAC. The junior has accumulated 176 assists through just 24 games, ranking 3rd in program history for assists in a season. Last time out, Reid set a career-high for assists in a season and she is just the fifth player in UB history to accumulate 400 career assists. She is just 16 assists shy of 4th place on UB's all-time assists charts. Reid now has six games with 10+ assists, all of which coming within her last 14 games for the Bulls. She has registered 8+ assists on 11 ocassions this season. Earlier in the season, Reid tied the program record with 16 assists against Ball State while her 28 assists over a two-game stretch are the most in the NCAA this season and most in program history.
BULLS RANK 13TH IN NATION IN OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING
Buffalo has been getting after the offensive glass all season long and this continued on Wednesday as they snagged 12 offensive rebounds in the road win at EMU. The Bulls turned those 12 offensive rebounds into 13 second chance points while they held EMU to just 10 offensive boards and 10 second chance points. UB has now won or tied the offensive rebounding battle in 19 of their 24 games this season. On the year, UB ranks 13th in the NCAA in offensive rebounds (16.5/game) and 29th in rebounds/game (42.5). Buffalo has held 19 opponents and 16 of their last 18, to 10 second chance points or less this season. The rebounding effort by the Bulls has been impressive as they are limiting their last 17 opponents to just 10.0 offensive rebounds/game while averaging 16.2 themselves.
CLEANING THE GLASS
One of the keys to the Bulls success this season has been winning the battle on the boards. UB was able to get after the rebounds on Wednesday night as they owned the 36-29 edge over the Eagles. With the win, UB is 15-4 on the year and 32-8 over the past two seasons when winning or tying the rebounding battle. As a team, UB ranks 2nd in the MAC and 29th in the NCAA in rebounds per game (42.5/game).
SMITH CONTINUES TO RISE ALL-TIME SCORING CHARTS
After becoming just the 23rd player in UB history to notch their 1,000th point at Ohio earlier this season, senior JoAnna Smith had an off night as she netted just seven points. The senior sits in 10th place on UB's all-time scoring charts with 1,238 career points and she now sits just five points shy of former teammate MacKenzie Loesing for 9th place on the charts. Smith also sits in 3rd place on UB's all-time three pointers made charts as she has connected on 180 through 113 career games.
SHOOTING FOR THE STARS
One of the keys to success for the Bulls over the past couple of seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack has been shooting a better percentage from the floor than their opponents. The Bulls were able to do this on Wednesday as they outshot the Eagles 42.0% to 38.2% for the game and it resulted in a road win. With the win, the Bulls are 14-0 this season and 31-1 over the past two seasons when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponents.
DEFENSE GETS BACK ON TRACK
The strength of the Bulls over the past two seasons has been their defense and that strong defense has helped UB gather a 17-7 record on the season. The Buffalo defense got back on track on Wednesday night after giving up a season-high 89 points to Northern Illinois on Saturday. The Bulls held Eastern Michigan to just 38.2% shooting and 52 points while forcing 18 turnovers. UB turned those 18 turnovers into 11 points. The Bulls rank 3rd in the MAC in scoring defense as they are allowing just 61.9 points/game. Buffalo is 40-7 over the last two seasons when holding their opponents under 70 points and are 18-0 when holding their opponents to scoring 50 points or less over the past two seasons. UB is also 13-0 this season when holding their opponents to 59 points or less.
DOMINATE THE PAINT
Playing for a coach that dominated the paint throughout her very successful career, the talented Bulls have begun to take a page out of their coaches book as they have won the battle in the paint in 15 of their 24 games this season. UB was able to win the battle inside on Wednesday at EMU and it resulted in a win as they outscored the Eagles 28-22 down low. With the win, UB holds a dominant 15-0 record on the season when winning the battle of the paint. Buffalo is averaging 30.5 points while limiting their opponents to just 24.8 points inside the paint on the season.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
The Bulls haven't been known to be a team that likes to get out on the fast break and run but that trend has begun to change this season with the addition of some athletic and talented freshman. The Bulls won this category on Wednesday for the 20th time this season by the score of 4-0. On the season, UB owns the 208-79 edge in fast break scoring and are 16-4 when winning this battle and just 1-3 when losing the fast break category. UB has won the fast break category in nine of their last 10 wins including their last six wins.
STARTING LINEUP CHANGES
Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack made changes to the Bulls starting lineup on Wednesday night at Eastern Michigan and it resulted in a win. The Bulls inserted a pair of veterans, Katherine Ups and Mariah Suchan, back into the starting lineup and it resulted in a win. Moving the two freshman, Summer Hemphill and Theresa Onwuka, to the bench gave UB some athleticism and energy off the bench which they have been lacking over the past couple of games. Buffalo has now used four starting lineup combinations on the year as only Stephanie Reid and JoAnna Smith have started all 24 games.
PROTECTING THE THREE POINT LINE
The Bulls have turned into one of the best three point defense teams in the MAC as of late and that continued on Wednesday as they held the Eastern Michigan Eagles to just 4-for-13 (30.8%) from behind the arc in the victory. Buffalo ranks 2nd in the conference allowing their opponents to shoot just 28.0% from behind the arc overall this season. In MAC play, UB ranks 2nd in three point defense as their opponents are shooting just 26.3%. Through 13 MAC games, the Buffalo defense is allowing just 4.2 triples against/game.
TURNING THEM OVER IN MAC PLAY
With just five conference games remaining, the UB defense has begun to take shape as they have turned into one of the best defenses in the conference in forcing turnovers. The stingy Buffalo defense ranks 3rd in the MAC with a turnover margin of +1.8 in MAC play as they are forcing an average of 17.0 turnovers/game. Over their last six games, UB is forcing an average of 18.2 turnovers while turning those into 15.8 points. The Bulls are tied for first in the MAC averaging 9.5 steals/game as they have accumulated 124 steals in conference action.
JOANNA SMITH HAS RARE OFF NIGHT IN WIN AT EMU
Senior leading scorer JoAnna Smith had a rare off night on Wednesday night but the Bulls were still able to pull off the road win. Smith finished the night going just 3-for-10 from the floor for seven points and two rebounds in 32 minutes of action. She came up with the biggest defensive play of the game in the closing seconds as she forced a miss on the would-be game-tying three pointer. The Southaven, MS native finished the game going 1-for-6 from behind the arc as she has now connected on at least one three pointer in 57 of her last 60 games and at least three triples in 32 of her last 60 games. She has gone over the 20-point plateau in five of her last seven games for the Bulls. Smith sits in third place on the all-time three pointers made list with 180 makes in her career as she has proved to be one of the most dangerous deep range shooters in program history. Buffalo is 14-5 this season and 33-16 over the past two seasons when Smith scores at least 10 points in a game. On the season, Smith is averaging a team-best 16.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists and 1.6 steals while leading UB in scoring 14 times. The captain has surpassed the 20-point plateau nine times this season including seven times in her past 12 games for the Bulls. In MAC play, Smith ranks 3rd in the conference in scoring as she is averaging 19.6 points while ranking 3rd in three pointers made with 38.
REID ALL ABOUT IT
Junior point guard Stephanie Reid continued her high level of play on Wednesday night as she led the Bulls in scoring as she finished the night with 14 points, eight assists and two steals across 38 minutes. With her eighth assist, Reid moved into 3rd place in UB history for assists in a season (176). She has recorded at least eight helpers in 11 of her last 17 games for the Bulls and at least 10 assists in six of her last 14 contests. Her 28 assists over a two-game span (Ball State and Western Michigan) are the most in the NCAA this season and most in program history. The junior sits in 5th place on UB's all-time assists charts with 413 career assists. Reid has reached double figures in scoring 14 times in her last 21 games. She has recorded at least one steal in 21 of 24 games and has notched multi-steal games 14 times this season including in five of her last six games. The junior has at least four steals in three of her last five games. Behind her recent strong play, Reid is averaging 9.9 points, 7.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 2.2 steals while ranking first in the MAC in assist/turnover ratio (3.1) and second in assists (7.3 APG). Through 13 MAC games, Reid is 1st in the MAC in assists per game (8.3/game) and first in assist/turnover ratio (3.7).
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Junior center Cassie Oursler has proved to be one of the most dominant post players in the conference when she is able to stay out of foul trouble. Oursler was able to have a solid all-around game on Wednesday night at Eastern Michigan as she finished the night with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks across 24 minutes of work. On the season, Oursler is averaging 18.2 minutes, 8.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while shooting 47.5% from the floor and 67.6% from the charity stripe. Oursler has recorded at least one block in 26 of her last 33 games and has notched at least two blocks in 17 of her 47 career starts. The junior ranks 14th in program history with 60 career rejections.
CHARITY STRIPE PROWESS
Having a point guard who can shoot free throws at a high percentage is a major plus for teams hoping to compete for championships and Buffalo has just that in junior Stephanie Reid. The Melbourne, Australia native has been great at the charity stripe for the Bulls over her career as she has made 194-of-255 attempts (76.1%), ranking seventh in program history for free throw percentage. Senior JoAnna Smith has also been a great free throw shooter over her UB career as she ranks 14th in school history for free throw percentage (71.9%) as she has gone 184-for-256.