BUFFALO, NY – For the second time in as many seasons, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (21-9, 10-8 MAC) collected a MAC Tournament opening round victory over the Bowling Green Falcons on Monday Afternoon at Alumni Arena by the score of 61-45. With the win, the #7 Bulls will take on #2 Ball State on Wednesday around 5:00 pm at Quicken Loans Arena.
Buffalo has now set a program record for most wins since joining the MAC as they have now collected 21 wins on the season. UB has now notched 13 home victories at Alumni Arena, the most in a season since joining the MAC in 1998-99.
The Bulls got out to a quick 8-3 start on Monday as Cassie Oursler drilled back-to-back shots before JoAnna Smith and Stephanie Reid netted buckets to give UB the early edge. The Falcons hung around as Sydney Lambert drilled a triple with 23 seconds remaining in the opening quarter to send the teams to the second with UB leading 12-11.
After the Falcons opened up the second quarter with a layup, the Buffalo defense dug in and allowed UB to go on a 8-1 run to take the 22-14 lead. A Sydney Lambert triple brought Bowling Green within five before Reid took over with a layup and free throw and a deep jumper to give the Bulls their biggest lead of the half, 27-17. Bowling Green closed out the scoring in the quarter to give UB the 27-19 edge at halftime as the Bulls held the Falcons to just nine points in the quarter.
The Falcons opened up the third with five straight points to make the score 27-24 before Smith took over the game. Smith got hot from deep, as she netted 13 straight points for the Bulls including three triples. Courtney Wilkins closed out the scoring in the third for the Bulls as she netted two free throws to send UB to the fourth leading 42-30. Buffalo collected 11 offensive rebounds in the third quarter alone while the Falcons were held to 11 points.
With the 12-point edge entering the fourth quarter, the Bulls defense sealed the victory as they forced Bowling Green to commit four turnovers while going 0-for-4 from behind the arc. Smith scored seven straight points in the fourth to give the Bulls the dominant 51-32 lead. The Falcons cut into the Buffalo lead midway through the quarter as Ashley Tunstall drilled a jumper to make it 55-41. UB wouldn't let the Falcons get any closer as Oursler finished off her night with a jumper to give the Bulls a 20-point lead. The Bulls held on down the stretch to earn the 61-45 victory.
In her final game at Alumni Arena, Smith gave the home fans a show in the second half as she was able to notch 22 of her 24 points in the second half while also grabbing eight rebounds and two steals in the win. The senior finished off her night going 8-for-19 from the floor and 4-for-11 from behind the arc while playing 35 minutes.
Oursler had another strong game for the Bulls down low as she netted 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks in just 18 minutes of work. She finished off her game going 8-for-12 from the floor while Stephanie Reid continued her strong play with 12 points, nine assists and four steals in 38 minutes. Reid moved into third place on the Bulls all-time assists charts as she has gathered 459 career helpers.
Katherine Ups had a solid game on the glass for the Bulls as she ripped down a team-best 10 rebounds including six offensive boards while chipping in with two points, two assists, a steal and a block. Mariah Suchan played a great game defensively as she finished with three points, nine rebounds and two steals in 32 minutes of work.
For the game, Buffalo held the 35.3% to 32.7% edge in shooting percentage as they improved to 18-1 when shooting a higher percentage from the floor. The Bulls ripped down 47 rebounds while the Falcons were only able to secure 35 as UB is 18-3 this season when outrebounding their opponent. UB won the battle in the paint 26-22 and the fast break scoring 10-0 in the win.
The Bulls will now move on to Cleveland where they will play #2 seeded Ball State on Wednesday at around 5:00 pm at Quicken Loans Arena in the MAC Quarterfinals.