Toledo Tops Buffalo in Semifinals of MAC Tournament

Courtesy of Kainan Guo/The Spectrum
Courtesy of Kainan Guo/The Spectrum

CLEVELAND, OH – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team lost to Toledo, 72-65, in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday afternoon, ending their bid to repeat as MAC champions.

"The hardest thing in my life is to have a team that I love so much feel so bad because they leave it out there so much," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "This group that I'm blessed to coach is just tremendous young women who gave it their best."

Toledo, the six seed, came into the game winners of nine of its last 10 and had defeated the Bulls twice in the regular season. An 11-3 scoring run by the Rockets at the end of the first half turned a one-point deficit into a 34-27 halftime lead and proved to be the difference in the game.

Toledo extended its lead to 14 points early in the fourth quarter. But as they did all season, the Bulls kept battling and a fast break layup by Gabi Bade cut the deficit to 60-56 with 3:45 remaining. However, on Toledo's ensuing possession, Jay-Ann Bravo Harriott hit a circus layup with the shot clock expiring to extend the lead to six. Following a UB miss, the Rockets scored again on their next possession to extend their lead to eight with 2:39 left. The Bulls would get no closer than five the rest of the way.

JoAnna Smith led the Bulls with 17 points and had a career-high six steals. Courtney Wilkins added 11 points and was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Stephanie Reid had 10 points and five assists and Cassie Oursler had 10 points and seven rebounds, but was limited to just 21 minutes due to foul trouble. Mariah Suchan scored all nine of her points in the fourth quarter and grabbed six rebounds.

The Rockets outrebounded the Bulls, 39-36, and had 11 offensive boards which led to 13 second-chance points, another key factor in the game.

The Bulls ended the MAC Tournament with a school-record for wins since joining the MAC in 1998-9 with 22 wins and will await to see if they are selected to play in a postseason tournament.