Women's Hoops Opens Five-Game Road Trip At Columbia On Saturday

Women's Hoops Opens Five-Game Road Trip At Columbia On Saturday


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (6-1, 0-0 MAC) will open up a five-game road trip on Saturday afternoon in the Big Apple as they take on the Columbia Lions. Tip on Saturday inside Francis S. Levien Gymnasium in NYC is set for 2:00 pm and will air live on the Ivy League Network.

After downing Canisius in their lone home game in the month of December on Thursday night, the UB women's basketball team will head to New York City for a clash with the Columbia Lions on Saturday afternoon. This will be the first of two trips to NYC for the Bulls this month as they will return to the city for a meeting with St. John's on December 21. The game against Columbia will tip at 2:00 pm and will air live on the Ivy League Network.

Behind some sufficating defense and timely scoring from sophomore Summer Hemphill, the UB women's basketball team was able to run away from Big 4 foe Canisius at Alumni Arena on Thursday night, 73-47. The win gave UB five straight wins over the Griffs as they were able to force 26 turnovers and allow Canisius to shoot just 33.3% from the field. Hemphill had a monster game for UB as she netted a season-high 14 points, six rebounds and five steals while Cassie Oursler and Cierra Dillard each chipped in with 14 points. The Bulls swiss army knife, Katherin Ups, finished off her impressive all around night with seven points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals in just 23 minutes of work. As a team, UB was able to dominate the fast break category, 14-0, and outscored the Griffs 34-6 inside the paint.

The Bulls are in the midst of playing five straight games against teams from the state of New York after they opened the five-game swing with a win over Canisius on Thursday. After Columbia on Saturday, UB will travel to 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. UB went 4-1 in those games in 2014-15.

The Bulls have been dominant over the past four seasons against non-conference foes as they own a 38-13 overall record in non-conference tilts. Buffalo is 6-1 this season against non-conference foes, outscoring their opponents by an average of 21.3 points/game across their six 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 18 non-conference games, Buffalo has outscored their opponents by 15.4 points/game as they have averaged 70.5 points while shooting 41.3% from the floor. The UB defense also held 11 opponents to under 60 points in non-conference play over their last 18 games.

The Bulls have been on the road for four of their first seven games of the season and they kick off a five-game road swing to close out 2017 on Saturday at Columbia. The Bulls have traveled to Daytona Beach, FL (1,133 miles) and Tempe, AZ (2,190 miles) over the past three weeks. UB owns a 3-1 road record this season as they have claimed victories over Nebraska, Clemson and UNLV. Last season, UB owned a 8-4 record on the road including a 5-2 record across their final seven road matches of the season. Over their last 11 road games, UB is outscoring their opponents 67.5 to 60.2 while forcing an average of 18.9 turnovers/game.

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 6-1 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 6-1 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 6-1 start to the season. 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, Buffalo was able to collect 22 assists on 28 made field goals as senior Katherine Ups led the way with eight assists while a total of eight Bulls earned at least one assist. In the win over UNLV last weekend, the Bulls were able to set a Division I program record with 28 assists on 29 made field goals. So far this season, the Bulls have notched four games with at least 22 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 seven 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 24.2% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 4.3 made three-pointers made/game as they held Canisius to 6-for-18 from behind the arc last time out. Earlier in the year, the Bulls held Clemson to no three pointers made, 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 23.7 turnovers/game so far this season as they haven't lost the turnover battle through seven games. The Bulls have taken advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 166 total turnovers into 166 points (23.7/game). Last time out against Canisius, the Bulls were able to force 26 Golden Griffin turnovers and they turned those into 25 points, winning the points off turnover battle 25-8. Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 17-4 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 seven games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 104-16 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB completely dominated the Griffs in the fast break as they outscored them 14-0 for the game as they cruised to a 26-point victory. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 35 of their last 39 games over the past two seasons including in 27 of their last 28 wins. Buffalo owned the 270-111 edge in fast break scoring last year.

Winning the battle inside the paint has been tough all season long for the Bulls as they have won or tied the category on four occasions. They are 4-0 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside. Last time out, the Bulls had their best performance down low as they were able to manhandle the Griffs and win the paint battle 34-6. On the year, UB is averaging 29.7 points in the paint and an average of 37.0 over their last two wins.

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 57.6 points/game during their 6-1 start to the season. Last time out, the stingy defense held Canisius to just 47 points while shooting 33.3% from the floor. Over the last three seasons, UB is 49-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 22-0 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 4-0 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 Canisius 38.9% to 33.3% from the floor. With the win, UB improves to 40-2 over the past three seasons when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent.

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 (14.7 PPG) while leading UB in scoring in each of their last three games including last time out against Canisius as she netted 14 points. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference as she is averaging 4.0 dimes/game while also ranking 6th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.9). 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 six of the Bulls seven games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 6-1 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 886 career points and will aim to surpass the 1,000-point plateau later this season.

Second year forward Summer Hemphill has impressed many over her UB career in spurts but has been struggling to put together consistent outings. The Buffalo native put together hesrt best showing of the season on Thursday night against Canisius as she was able to lead UB with 14 points, six rebounds and a career-high five steals as the Bulls cruised to a 26-point victory. Hemphill has started the last two games for UB and is averaging 7.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.4 steals across an average of 17.9 minutes on the year.

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 six victories this season. Last time out, Oursler had another efficient and effective offensive day as she netted 14 points on 6-for-11 from the floor while also grabbing two rebounds and dishing out two assists in the 26-point win over Canisius. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 52.1% from the floor. 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 did a little bit of everything for UB on Thursday night against Canisius as she netted seven points, a career-high eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes of work. The Bulls steady hand has produced 16 straight starts and grabbed 5+ rebounds in nine of her last 10 games dating back to last season. On the year, she is averaging a career-high 8.9 points, a team-best 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists while playing an average of 24.6 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%). Reid has missed the last four games but will be aiming to return on Saturday against Columbia.

Junior forward Brittany Morrison was slowed by an injury earlier this season but she has been a strong component of the UB bench over the past three games as she is averaging 6.0 points and 4.3 rebounds while playing an average of 13.7 minutes/game. Last time out, Morrison had a great game against Canisius as she netted six points and seven rebounds, five offensive, in 13 minutes of work off the bench.

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.