Women's Basketball Set To Host Crosstown Rival Canisius On Thursday Night

Women's Basketball Set To Host Crosstown Rival Canisius On Thursday Night


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (4-1, 0-0 MAC) will welcome Big 4 foe Canisius to Alumni Arena on Thursday night for a non-conference showdown. This game will mark the lone December home game for the Bulls as they will close out 2017 with five straight on the road before returning home in January. The Bulls and Golden Griffins will tip at 7:00 pm and the game will air live on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call.

Thursday's game can also be heard on ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will be on the call starting at 6:30 pm with the pre-game show.

Coming off of a dominant 80-53 victory over UNLV on Sunday afternoon, the UB women's basketball team returns home on Thursday for their first home game since November 13 when they downed Maryland Eastern Shore. The Bulls welcome crosstown rival Canisius to Alumni Arena on Thursday night at 7pm as the UB aims to notch their fifth straight win over the Golden Griffins. The game will air live on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call.

UB concluded their second longest road trip in program history on Sunday afternoon with an impressive victory over UNLV. The Bulls opened up the ASU Classic with a loss to the host Sun Devils on Saturday afternoon by the score of 76-57 as Cierra Dillard led the Bulls with 18 points and three steals in the loss. The Bulls were impressive on Sunday as they downed the Lady Rebels 80-53 as four UB players scored in double figures as Buffalo shot 50% from the floor as a team. Dillard once again led the way with 18 points while Cassie Oursler added a season-high 16 points, Autumn Jones netted a career-best 15 points and Mariah Suchan finished with 10 points off the bench. The UB defense allowed the Lady Rebels to shoot just 15.4% from behind the arc while forcing 26 turnovers and turning those into 25 points.

Starting with the Canisius Golden Griffins on Thursday night, the Bulls will play five straight games against teams from the state of New York. After Canisius, UB will travel to Columbia, St. Bonaventure, Niagara and St. John's. This marks just the second time in program history the Bulls have played five straight games against teams from New York state joining the 2014-15 season when UB played Cornell, St. Bonaventure, Manhattan, LIU Brooklyn and Canisius in consecutive games.

The Bulls have been dominant over the past four seasons against non-conference foes as they own a 37-13 overall record in non-conference tilts. Buffalo is 5-1 this season against non-conference foes, outscoring their opponents by an average of 21.2 points/game across their five victories. The Bulls started out last season with a program record 10-0 start in non-conference games, finishing 10-1 overall. Over their last 17 non-conference games, Buffalo has outscored their opponents by 13.1 points/game as they have averaged 70.1 points while shooting 41.8% from the floor. The UB defense also held 10 opponents to under 60 points in non-conference play over their last 17 games.

Alumni Arena has been nice to the Bulls over the past four seasons as UB owns a 42-17 record in front of their home fans. Buffalo has started the 2017-18 campaign with two straight impressive showings after they wrapped up their 2016-17 campaign with a 13-4 record at home, a program record for wins since joining the MAC in 1998-99. Buffalo was also able to start last season 8-0 at home for just the second time since joining the MAC. Over the past four seasons, UB is averaging 68.4 points/game while limiting their opponents to just 57.2 points/game at Alumni Arena.

As of late, the Bulls have begun to dominate each of their Big 4 opponents, Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure. The Bulls have been a perfect 3-0 against the three local foes in two of the past three seasons and own a 10-2 overall record against Big 4 opponents since 2013-14. UB has won four straight against the Golden Griffins and 12 straight against the Niagara Purple Eagles. Buffalo has earned at least one victory over a Big 4 foe every year since 2004-05 when they lost to Niagara and Canisius.

The NCAA released their first RPI (Rating Percentage Index) rankings of the season on Monday afternoon and the Bulls ranked 22nd in the nation, highest of any MAC school and the third highest of any mid-major program. The Bulls are 5-1 overall this season with impressive wins over members from the Big Ten (Nebraska), ACC (Clemson) and Mountain West (UNLV). The Bulls lone loss this season came to previously nationally-ranked Arizona State, a team that sits in 26th in the latest national rankings. Last season, UB reached as high as 12th in the RPI rankings after they opened the season 10-0.

After a 1-1 weekend out in Arizona, the UB women's basketball team ranked 7th in the College Insider Mid-Major Top-25 poll for the second straight week. Buffalo continues to be the highest ranked MAC program as they are now 5-1 on the season with wins over Nebraska, Clemson and UNLV.

Despite playing without one of the best distributors in college basketball, Stephanie Reid, the Bulls have been able to dish out their fair share of assists during their 5-1 start. UB currently leads the MAC and ranks 14th in the NCAA in assists/game (19.3) as four Bulls are averaging at least 2.0 assists/game so far this season. Last time out, the Bulls were able to set a Division I program record with 28 assists on 29 made field goals in the win over UNLV. So far this season, the Bulls have notched three games with at least 23 assists, proving that team work and sharing the ball equate to victories on the court.

A focus of this Buffalo team has been defending the three-point shot and the Bulls have taken that to heart through six games this season. The Bulls rank 1st in the MAC and 12th in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 22.6% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 4.0 three-pointers made/game as they held Arizona State to just four and UNLV to just 2-for-13 from behind the arc this weekend. Earlier in the year, the Bulls held Clemson to no three pointers, marking the first time that has happened since November 14, 2015 when they held LIU Brooklyn to 0-for-14 from deep.

The pesky Buffalo defense has been able to force an average of 23.3 turnovers/game so far this season as they haven't lost the turnover battle through six games. The Bulls have taken advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 140 total turnovers into 141 points (23.5/game). Last time out against UNLV, the Bulls were able to force 26 Lady Rebel turnovers and they turned those into 25 points. Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 16-4 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 six games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 90-16 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB completely dominated the Lady Rebels in the fast break as they outscored them 23-4 as they cruised to a 27-point victory. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 34 of their last 38 games over the past two seasons inclduing in 26 of their last 27 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 9th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 33.0% from the floor. The Bulls also lead the MAC in scoring defense as they are allowing just 59.3 points/game during their 5-1 start to the season. Last time out, the stingy defense held UNLV to just 30.0% shooting from the floor and 15.4% from behind the arc. Over the last three seasons, UB is 48-8 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 3-0 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 UNLV Lady Rebels 50.0% to 30.0% from the floor. With the win, UB improves to 39-2 over the past three seasons when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent.

The Buffalo bench has been a strength of the team all season long as it has been in recent seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. The Bulls have relied on their depth at every position this season as they are averaging 30.7 points/game from their non-starters. Last time out, the Buffalo bench was able to outscore the starters, 41-39, as Autumn Jones netted a career-high 15 points and Mariah Suchan added 10 points on 5-for-7 from the floor. The UB bench has outscored the starters twice this season including scoring a season-high 49 points in the win over Maryland Eastern Shore. UB is 4-0 so far this season when they record more bench points than their opponent and were 17-6 a season ago when winning the bench battle.

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 (14.8 PPG) while leading UB in scoring in both games at the ASU Classic as she earned All-Tournament team honors. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference as she is aberaging 4.0 dimes/game while also ranking 6th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.8). The junior 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 five of the Bulls six games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 5-1 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 872 career points and will aim to surpass the 1,000-point plateau later this season.

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 has scored in double figures in each of UB's five victories this season. Last time out, Oursler had her best offensive day as she netted a season-best 16 points on 8-for-11 from the floor while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out a career-best three assists in the 27-point win over UNLV. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 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, Ups has stepped up and produced big games for UB. The senior had a strong showing in the loss to Arizona State as she netted 13 points and she backed that up with an all around game against UNLV as UB cruised to victory. Ups finished the UNLV game with five points, a team-best six rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes. The Bulls steady hand has produced 15 straight starts and grabbed 5+ rebounds in eight of nine games dating back to last season. On the year, she is averaging a career-high 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists while playing an average of 24.8 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 has been forced to play more minutes than expected early on in her career and she has continued to grow for the Bulls. After an injury forced Hall into action against Nebraska, the Hamilton, Ontario native has played major minutes in the Bulls last three games and she earned a pair of starts at point guard. Last time out, Hall had her best game as a Bull as she netted five points and a career-best seven assists off the bench in 21 minutes of action against UNLV. Hall is no stranger to pressure situations as she 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.