BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team will open up their 2017-18 campaign on Friday night with an exhibition game against Division II member Bloomsburg at Alumni Arena. The Bulls and Huskies will tip at 5:30 pm and can be seen on ESPN3 with Howard Simon and Amy Audibert on the call.
Friday night's game can also be listened to on ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will be on the call for the game at 5:30 pm. Tune in at 5:00 pm as Mattia gets you started with the pre-game show.
BULLS KICK OFF 2017-18 WITH EXHIBITION AGAINST BLOOMSBURG
For the second straight season, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team will open up the season with an exhibition game against the Bloomsburg Huskies. The Bulls handed the Huskies a 65-45 loss last season at Alumni Arena as JoAnna Smith led all UB players with 14 points in the win. Bloomsburg comes to Buffalo after an 11-17 campaign in their first season under head coach Alison Tagliaferri.
UB PICKED ATOP MAC EAST FOR SECOND TIME
For just the second time in program history, the UB women's basketball team was tabbed by MAC coaches to win the MAC East regular season title. The Bulls received a program record 10 first place votes, finishing way ahead of second place Kent State in the polls. Buffalo was also able to garner one vote to win the regular season MAC championship and one vote to win the MAC Tournament championship.
REID EARNS SPOT ON ALL-MAC EAST SQUAD
After a career year during her junior campaign, point guard Stephanie Reid was able to garner some preseason praise as she was named to the All-MAC east team for the second straight season. Reid joined Carly Santoro of Bowling Green, Jordan Korinek of Kent State, Lauren Dickerson of Miami and Taylor Agler of Ohio on the squad.
BACK-TO-BACK 20 WIN SEASONS
Since head coach Felisha Legette-Jack took over the reins of the program prior to the 2012-13 campaign, the Bulls have turned into one of the premier teams in the Mid-American Conference. UB is 90-70 under Legette-Jack's watchful eye as they have accumulated at least 17 victories in each of the past four seasons and 19+ wins in three straight campaigns. Posting 22 wins a season ago, the Bulls have now notched back-to-back 20+ win seasons for just the second time in program history and the first since joining the MAC.
A SEASON TO REMEMBER
The 2016-17 season for the UB women's basketball team is one of the most impressive seasons in program history as they posted a 22-10 record, second most wins in the Bulls division I history and most since joining the MAC in 1998-99. Buffalo started the season in impressive fashion as they set the program record for best start to a season going 10-0 before suffering their first loss in the final non-conference game of the season. The 10-1 non-conference mark is also a program record. After gathering a 10-8 conference mark, the Bulls were able to advance to their second straight MAC semifinal game for the first time in program history but fell short, losing to eventual MAC champions, Toledo. Despite the 22 wins and beating multiple teams in the NIT field, Buffalo was denied of a postseason NIT berth.
EXPERIENCED SQUAD RETURNS FOR UB
Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, the Bulls will be returning one of the most experienced rosters in the MAC as they have a total of five seniors and 10 upperclassmen who have notched a lot of playing minutes in their careers. The Bulls rank second in the MAC in career minutes returning as UB returns 12,413 minutes of experience. Senior point guard Stephanie Reid is the most experienced returner for the Bulls as she has notched 2,720 career minutes running the UB offense.
1. Miami - 13,782
2. BUFFALO - 12,413
3. CMU - 11,567
4. WMU - 10,848
5. Kent St. - 10,795
6. Toledo - 10,590
7. NIU - 9,661
8. BGSU - 8,073
9. Ball St. - 6,852
10. EMU - 6,452
11. Akron - 4,964
12. Ohio - 3,877
REID 'EM AND WEEP
Senior point guard Stephanie Reid has turned into the best floor general in the MAC over her impressive three-year UB career. The senior heads into her final campaign looking to leave her mark throughout the UB record books as she has already set the program record for assists in a season with 233 a season ago. Last season, Reid posted career-highs in points (11.5), assists (7.3), rebounds (3.1) and steals (2.0) while also tying the program record for assists in a single game with 16 against Ball State. She finished the season ranked tied for 5th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.3) and 8th in assist/turnover margin (2.9) while also notching seven games with 10+ assists, a new career-high. Reid closed out her junior campaign scoring in double figures 22 times while breaking the 20-point plateau a career-best four times. Defensively, Reid earned All-MAC Defensive Team honors for the second straight season as she averaged a career-best 2.0 steals/game while recording at least one theft in 26 of 32 games and two or more steals in 17 games. She enters the season ranked 2nd in program history for career assists (470) and 7th in free throw percentage (75.8%).
Fifth-year senior center Cassie Oursler will be leaned on heavily in the post this season and the 6-3 local product is more than ready to tackle that challenge. Oursler is coming off of a strong junior campaign that saw her average a career-best 9.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while playing just 19.5 minutes/game. Last season, Oursler had 13 games with at least two blocks while notching at least one rejection in 24 games including each of her final nine games. With an improved fitness level this season and a new offensive game plan, the senior will be looking to exploit her opponents not only down low but in the open court.
DILLARD RETURNS TO THE COURT
The one player that is most excited to open up play on Friday afternoon is junior transfer Cierra Dillard. The UMass transfer sat out last season due to transfer rules and will be playing in her first game as a Bull and first game overall since 2015-16 when she led the Minutewomen in scoring as she averaged 15.5 points in the Atlantic 10 conference. Dillard brings pure scoring ability and creativeness to the court that will translate well to the style of play the Bulls will be unveiling this season. Her high energy and feel for the game are off the charts and she will be looked upon to pick up the scoring void left by the departure of JoAnna Smith who averaged 17.2 points last season.
Buffalo will be looking for a lot of production out of their ultra talented sophomore class of Theresa Onwuka and Summer Hemphill. Both players saw major minutes during their freshman campaigns as Hemphill averaged 21.3 minutes, 6.0 points, a team-best 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while Onwuka logged 17.2 minutes, 5.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals. Hemphill tied for the team lead as she notched four double-doubles and earned All-MAC Freshman team honors while Onwuka netted three double-doubles of her own.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The strength of the Bulls over the past two seasons has been their defense and that strong defense has helped UB earn back-to-back 20 win campaigns. The Bulls stingy defense led the MAC a season ago as they allowed just 61.6 points/game while holding their opponents to 37.5% shooting from the floor and 28.5% from behind the arc. UB is 45-8 over the past two seasons when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 19-0 when holding their opponents to 50 points or less. A season ago, UB was 17-0 when holding their opponents to 59 points or less.
JO NO MO
The Bulls will be looking to replace their leading scorer and one of the best shooting guards in program history this season as JoAnna Smith graduated in the spring. Smith averaged a team-best 17.2 points last season while finishing her career ranked sixth in program history with 1,395 career points. The lethal outside scorer also became the second UB player under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack to earn a professional contract following her career as she signed to play professionally in Portugal this season.
CLEANING THE GLASS
One of the keys to the Bulls success last season was their ability to rebound. The Bulls ranked second in the MAC in rebounding (42.7/game) while ranking first in the conference in rebounding margin (+6.2). Last season, UB was 20-4 when they won the rebounding battle and just 2-6 when they were outrebounded by their opponent. Buffalo is now 37-8 over the past two seasons when they outrebound their opponent.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
Buffalo turned into one of the best teams in the country out in transition a season ago and with the athleticism on the roster this year, UB is sure to be near the top of the nation in fast break scoring. Buffalo was able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 28 of their 32 games a season ago including in 21 of their 22 victories. Last season, UB outscored their opponents 270-111 in the open court and were 1-3 when losing that category.
This Buffalo squad is jammed full of experience and it starts with their senior class of five players, Stephanie Reid, Liisa Ups, Katherine Ups, Mariah Suchan and Cassie Oursler. Through three seasons, this senior class has accumulated 61 victories and with eight wins this season, they will become the winningest senior class since the Bulls joined the MAC in 1998-99.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Buffalo will welcome three newcomers to the squad this season after graduating just one senior from last seasons 22-win team. Junior Autumn Jones transfers to Buffalo after spending the past two seasons at Pensecola State Junior College where she averaged 9.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals during her sophomore campaign. UB will also welcome a pair of freshman in point guard Hanna Hall and forward Marissa Hamilton. Hall comes to Buffalo from nearby Hamilton, Ontario where she played at Lincoln Prep. Hall spent the summer of 2017 playing for the U19 Canadian National team, guiding them to their first-ever Bronze medal at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Italy. Hamilton joins the Bulls after a successful high school career at Ellicottville high school where she averaged 21.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals during her senior season.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
The Bulls are loaded with experience and leadership heading into head coach Felisha Legette-Jack's sixth season at the helm of the program. Buffalo announced its four team captains this season will be three seniors, Stephanie Reid, Katherine Ups and Cassie Oursler, along with one junior, Ayoleka Sodade. With the leadership ability of this group of four captains, the 2017-18 campaign is sure to be one to remember for the Bulls.
COACHING STAFF ADDITIONS
The Bulls will welcome two new members to their coaching staff for the 2017-18 campaign including a very familiar face. Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack announced the addition of Khyreed Carter as assistant coach, replacing four-year assistant Ashley Zuber on the Bulls sideline. Carter comes to Buffalo after five seasons at Michigan State where he was a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball program a season ago. Joining Carter on the staff will be former UB captain Karin Moss who joins the staff as director of basketball operations, replacing Hayley Schaetzle who left the program to become head coach at Division III member Pitt-Greensburg. Moss will take care of the day-to-day operations of the Bulls while also handling travel.