AKRON, OH – Senior JoAnna Smith tied a career-high with 31 points to lead the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (20-8, 10-6 MAC) to the dominant 81-55 win over the Akron Zips on Wednesday night. The win was the Bulls first in Akron since 2007-08 when they downed the Zips 55-51 at James A. Rhodes Arena. With the win, UB has now collected back-to-back 20 wins seasons for the first time since joining division I in 1998-99.
The Bulls went on an impressive 20-0 run from the end of the first quarter until three minutes left in the second quarter to blow the game open. The Buffalo defense was strong during this streak as they held the Zips to 0-11 from the floor to open the second quarter and forced six turnovers in the quarter as well. After their biggest run of the season, the Bulls went up by the score of 32-10 and never looked back.
The Buffalo offense got off to a quick start against the Zips as Stephanie Reid opened the game with a deep triple. The Bulls raced out to the 11-2 edge as JoAnna Smith connected on a pair of three pointers and Cassie Oursler finished off a layup. The Zips then got back in the game with an 8-1 run before the Bulls closed out the quarter on a 5-0 behind another Smith triple and a layup from Brittany Morrison to give UB the 17-10 edge through 10 minutes.
UB started the second quarter out the same way they started the first as Reid opened the scoring with a layup. Mariah Suchan backed up Reid's layup with a triple before Smith netted four points and Oursler added a layup to allow the Bulls to open the second quarter on a 15-0 run and take the 32-10 lead. The Zips then went on a quick 7-2 run to make the score 34-17 in favor of the Bulls but Reid responded with a triple and an old fashion three-point play to give UB their biggest lead of the game, 40-17. The Zips closed out the scoring with a layup as the Bulls went to the locker room with the 40-19 lead.
After the Bulls came out strong with back-to-back jumpers, the Zips went on an 8-2 run to make the score 46-27 in favor of the Bulls. Smith then took over the scoring load for the Bulls as she netted a pair of triples and a step back jumper to give the Bulls the 54-31 edge. Akron ended the quarter on a 5-0 run to cut their deficit to 54-36 at the end of the third quarter.
The Zips opened the fourth quarter on a 9-4 run to bring the score within 13, 58-45, before Oursler ended the run with a jumper. Smith then took over as she connected on a triple and then an old fashion three point play to tie a career-high with 31 points before exiting the game with UB leading 68-48. The Buffalo bench finished off the game strong to secure the 26-point road victory over the Zips as Courtney Wilkins connected on a triple and Gabi Bade made a layup and free throw to cap the 81-55 win.
Smith was on all night long as she was able to tie her career and season-high with 31 points on 10-for-19 from the floor and a season-high 6-for-12 from deep. Smith also chipped in with five rebounds and two steals as she has now gone over the 20-point plateau 11 times this season. UB saw two players go over the 20-point plateau for the first time this season as Reid netted 20 points on the night to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.
Oursler continued her strong play down low for the Bulls as she netted 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. The junior has now notched at least three rejections in four straight games while going an efficient 5-for-8 from the floor. Brittany Morrison finished off her night with five points and four rebounds across 14 minutes while Suchan netted five points, three rebounds, an assist and a block in 21 minutes.
For the game, the Bulls tied a season-high with 81 points as they connected on 49.2% of their shots and 43.5% of their three pointers. The UB defense was strong as they held the Zips to 30.3% shooting and 14 turnovers while turning those turnovers into 17 points. UB held the Zips to 55 points as they are 16-0 this season when holding their opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls improved to 16-0 this season when winning the battle in the paint as they dominated the Zips 34-20 in the win.
The Bulls will return to the hardwood on Saturday afternoon as they wrap up the regular season with a road game against the Kent State Golden Flashes. Saturday's game will tip at 2:00 pm.