Women's Hoops Makes Journey Out West For The Arizona State Classic

Women's Hoops Makes Journey Out West For The Arizona State Classic


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (4-0, 0-0 MAC) will head out west for their second longest trip in program history this weekend to take part in the Arizona State Classic. The Bulls will open the tournament on Saturday at 4:30 pm as they take on the host Sun Devils. The game will air live on the Pac-12 Network on Saturday as J.B. Long and Ben Braun will be on the call.

The game on Saturday in Tempe can also be listened to on ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will be on the call starting at 4:00 pm with the pre-game show.

After a strong tournament down in the sun in Florida last weekend, the Bulls are set for a trip out west as they get set to participate in the Arizona State Classic on Saturday and Sunday. The Bulls will open the tournament against the host Sun Devils on Saturday at 4:30 pm and depending on the result, they will take on either UNLV or UC Riverside on Sunday at 2:00 pm. The meeting with Arizona State will be the first between the two programs all-time.

Buffalo is coming off of a successful trip down to the sunshine state as they claimed a pair of wins over Power 5 conference opponents. The Bulls earned a 82-72 victory in the first game of the San Juan Shootout in Daytona Beach, FL before they closed out the tournament with an impressive 61-41 victory over ACC member Clemson. In the 20-point victory over the Tigers, the Buffalo defense was stiffling as they held Clemson to just 27.8% shooting from the floor and didn't allow a three-pointer while also forcing 23 turnovers that they turned into 21 points. Offensively, senior center Cassie Oursler scored in double figures for her fourth straight game to start the season as she netted a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds. Off the Bench, Summer Hemphill provided the Bulls with some energy and intensity as she went for six points and a season-high 14 rebounds as Buffalo outrebounded Clemson 50-42 for the game.

The trip out to Arizona State will mark the furthest trip for the Bulls since joining the MAC in 1998-99 and will be the 2nd furthest trip in program history. The 2,197 mile journey to Arizona State is the longest trip since the Bulls made the trek to Hawaii during the 1995-96 campaign, splitting a pair of games with the Rainbow Warriors. After the trip out west, UB will travel a total of 3,198 miles in the last two weeks with trips to Arizona and Florida.

The Bulls have been dominant over the past four seasons against non-conference foes as they own a 36-12 overall record in non-conference tilts. Buffalo is 4-0 this season against non-conference foes, outscoring their opponents by an average of 19.7 points/game. The Bulls started out last season with a program record 10-0 start in non-conference games, finishing 10-1 overall. Over their last 15 non-conference games, Buffalo has outscored their opponents by 14.1 points/game as they have averaged 70.2 points while shooting 41.4% from the floor. The UB defense also held nine opponents to under 60 points in non-conference play over their last 15 games.

The Bulls posted their two most impressive victories of the season last weekend at the San Juan Shootout in Daytona Beach, FL as they were able to earn a come-from-behind victory over Big Ten member Nebraska and post a 20-point win over ACC member Clemson. With the wins, Buffalo has improved to 4-0 for the third straight season, the first time they have done that in program history. This 4-0 start is the most impressive as they are outscoring their opponents by an average of 19.7 points/game. Buffalo will be looking to improve to 6-0 this weekend, a record they have produced each of the past two seasons.

Following a pair of strong wins over Power 5 conference foes, Nebraska and Clemson, the UB women's basketball team moved up to No. 7 in the latest College Insider Mid-Major Top-25 poll posted on Monday. The No. 7 ranking is the highest the Bulls have been this season and marks the highest ranking by any MAC team so far this season.
A focus of this Buffalo team has been defending the three-point shot and the Bulls have taken that to heart through four games this season. The Bulls rank 1st in the MAC and 4th in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 21.2% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 4.5 three-pointers made/game and they held Clemson to zero makes on Friday, marking the first time the Bulls have held a team without a three-pointer since November 14, 2015 when they held LIU Brooklyn to 0-for-14 from behind the arc.

The pesky Buffalo defense has been able to force an average of 23 turnovers/game so far this season as they have forced more turnovers than their opponents in each game this season. The Bulls have taken advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 92 total turnovers into 99 points (24.8/game). Last time out against Clemson, UB forced 23 turnovers and turned those into 21 points. Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 15-4 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

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 near the top of the nation in fast break scoring once again. Through their first four games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 49-6 edge in fast break scoring through four wins. Last time out, UB earned the 6-2 edge in fast break scoring as they ran away with a 20-point victory over Clemson. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 32 of their last 36 games over the past two seasons inclduing in 25 of their last 26 wins. Buffalo owned the 270-111 edge in fast break scoring last year.

The Bulls have been known for their defense since head coach Felisha Legette-Jack took over the program six seasons ago which has helped UB produce back-to-back 20+ win seasons. After leading the MAC a season ago in points allowed/game, the Buffalo defense has once again locked down opposing offenses as they are 1st in the MAC and 4th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 31.6% from the floor. Last time out, the stingy defense held ACC member Clemson to just 27.8% shooting from the floor and didn't allow a three-pointer. Over the last three seasons, UB is 47-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 21-0 when holding opponents to 50 points or less. Last season, UB was a perfect 17-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less and are 2-0 this season when doing so.

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. Buffalo was able to do this in their last game as they outshot the Clemson Tigers 30.9% to 27.8% from the floor. With the win, UB improves to 38-2 over the past three seasons when they shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent.

One of the keys to success each and every game for the Bulls is winning the rebounding battle. Last time out, the Bulls responded with a huge game on the glass as they grabbed a season-high 50 rebounds and 21 offensive boards as they won the rebounding category 50-42 over Clemson. On the season, UB ranks 1st in the MAC in rebounding offense as they are averaging 44.2 rebounds/game while they also rank 2nd in the MAC in offensive rebounds/game (15.3). Last season, UB was 20-4 when they won the rebounding battle and just 2-6 when they didn't. Over the past three seasons, Buffalo owns a 39-8 record when they win the battle on the glass.

After sitting out last season due to transfer rules, junior guard Cierra Dillard was viewed by many as a pure scorer with loads of potential on the offensive end of the court. The Rochester native hasn't let down the Buffalo fans on the offensive end of the court as she leads the Bulls in scoring (13.3 PPG) while scoring a team-high 25 points in the come-from-behind victory over Nebraska last weekend. She has also turned into a great facilitator for the Bulls as she is averaging 4.5 assists/game with a pair of six-assist efforts. The most surprising part of Dillard's game has been her defensive prowess. She currently ranks 2nd in the NCAA in steals/game (4.8) as she uses her superior basketball IQ to get into the opposing teams passing lanes and uses her quick hands to force tons of turnovers for the Bulls. On the year, Dillard has recorded at least three steals in all four games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 4-0 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 836 career points and will aim to surpass the 1,000-point plateau later this season.

The Bulls have been receiving major contributions from a pair of sophomores, Summer Hemphill and Theresa Onwuka. Hemphill was a problem for the Clemson Tigers last time out as she was a monster on the glass, grabbing 14 rebounds including six offensive rebounds. The Buffalo native finished off her strong night with six points, 14 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal across 25 minutes of work off the bench after producing 11 points and seven boards in the win over Nebraska on Thanksgiving. Onwuka put up seven points in 15 minutes against Clemson after posting three points and six rebounds in 14 minutes in the win over the Cornhuskers. On the year, Hemphill is averaging 8.8 points, a team-high 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while Onwuka is averaging 6.3 points and 3.8 boards through four wins off the bench.

Fifth-year senior center Cassie Oursler is being leaned on heavily this season and she is proving that she is more than capable of shouldering the load down low for the Bulls. The Grand Island, NY native is having her best offensive season to date for the Bulls as she is the only UB player to score in double figures in all four wins this season. Last time out, Oursler was a handful for the athletic and long Clemson Tigers as she netted 13 points and grabbed a season-high eight rebounds in the 20-point victory. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. With an improved fitness level this season and a new offensive game plan, the senior has been exploiting her opponents not only down low but also in the open court.

Senior guard Katherine Ups has been an unsung hero for the Bulls over the entirety of her Buffalo career. The Australia native has been the Bulls most consistent performer on both ends of the court over her career as she is looked at as being one of the strongest defenders on the team. With the absence of point guard Stephanie Reid this weekend, Ups stepped up big time for the Bulls as she posted a career-best 18 points and five rebounds in the come-from-behind win over Nebraska. She backed that game up with a 10 point, six rebound, four assist and three steal effort against Clemson in the Bulls win. The Bulls steady hand has produced 13 straight starts and grabbed 5+ rebounds in seven straight games dating back to last season. On the year, she is averaging a career-high 9.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals while playing 24.5 minutes/game.

Senior point guard Stephanie Reid has turned into the best floor general in the MAC over her impressive four-year UB career. Reid had a strong start to her senior season as she set the program record for assists in a season opener with 11 dimes against Delaware. After a quiet game in a blowout win against Maryland Eastern Shore, Reid started quick against Big Ten member Nebraska as she assisted on the first five buckets of the game and finished off a layup to give UB the 21-11 lead in the first quarter before suffering an injury that saw her miss the rest of the weekend. Reid is not only the best facilitator in the MAC, but also a menace on defense as she has earned back-to-back MAC All-Defensive team honors. As a junior, Reid set the program record for assists in a season with 233 helpers and she currently ranks second in program history with 491 career dimes. For her impressive career, she has accumulated 863 points, 491 assists and 274 rebounds. She also ranks 7th in program history in free throw percentage (75.7%).

Freshman point guard Hanna Hall was forced into action this past weekend and performed admirably in a tough situation. After an injury forced Hall into action against Nebraska on Thursday, the Hamilton, Ontario native played 16 minutes and finished the game with six points, two assists and a rebound as she manned the point guard position. On Friday, Hall earned her first collegiate start at point and looked like a veteran as she played a career-high 17 minutes and finished with three points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Prior to the season, Hall was the starting point guard and helped lead the U19 Canadian National Team to their first-ever Bronze medal at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Italy.

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        7. NIU - 9,661
2. BUFFALO - 12,413    8. BGSU - 8,073
3. CMU - 11,567        9. Ball St. - 6,852
4. WMU - 10,848        10. EMU - 6,452
5. Kent St. - 10,795    11. Akron - 4,964
6. Toledo - 10,590        12. Ohio - 3,877

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. This senior class has accumulated 65 victories together and with four more wins this season, they will become the winningest senior class since the Bulls joined the MAC in 1998-99.