Bulls Travel To Olean To Take On Big 4 Foe St. Bonaventure On Friday Night

Bulls Travel To Olean To Take On Big 4 Foe St. Bonaventure On Friday Night


BUFFALO, NY - Riding a three-game winning streak, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (7-1, 0-0 MAC) returns to the road on Friday night as they head to Olean, NY to take on the St. Bonaventure Bonnies in a Big 4 matchup. The Bulls and Bonnies will tip at 7:00 pm on Friday night inside the Reilly Center.

The game can be listened to live on ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will be on the call, starting at 6:30 pm with the pregame show.

This will mark the 26th meeting of all-time between the two programs with the Bonnies holding the 16-9 series record over the Bulls. Buffalo has the 2-1 advantage in the last three meetings as they were able to collect the 68-47 victory inside Alumni Arena last season. St. Bonaventure has won four straight meetings in Olean at the Reilly Center.

Winners of their last three games, the UB women's basketball team will be looking to keep their streak alive on Friday night as they head to Olean to take on Big 4 foe St. Bonaventure in a non-conference showdown. The Bulls enter with a 7-1 record after their buzzer-beating win on Saturday while the Bonnies are flying high after a win over Penn State. St. Bonaventure is 5-5 on the season as they welcome the Bulls for their sixth home game of the season at the Reilly Center.

Last time out, the Bulls faced some adversity as they trailed the Columbia Lions by five heading into the final quarter. The senior leadership of the Bulls wouldn't allow the Lions to get any further out of reach as Cassie Oursler had a huge quarter and Katherine Ups drilled a go-ahead three in the final two minutes of play. With the score tied, 63-63, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack drew up a perfect inbound play that saw Brittany Morrison get free under the basket for the game-winning buzzer-beating layup. Buffalo was led offensively on Saturday by Cassie Oursler who netted a career-high 26 points and 11 rebounds in her third career double-double. Junior Autumn Jones also provided UB with a spark off the bench as she finished with a career-best 18 points, four assists and three steals in the Bulls seventh win of the season.

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 wins over Canisius on Thursday and Columbia on Saturday. After St. Bonaventure on Friday, UB will travel to Niagara and St. John's to wrap up their five-game in-state trip. 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 39-13 overall record in non-conference tilts. Buffalo is 7-1 this season against non-conference foes, outscoring their opponents by an average of 19.2 points/game across their seven 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 19 non-conference games, Buffalo has outscored their opponents by 13.5 points/game as they have averaged 70.1 points while shooting 41.2% from the floor. The UB defense also held 11 opponents to under 60 points in non-conference play over their last 19 games.

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 11-2 overall record against Big 4 opponents since 2013-14. The Bulls downed Canisius last week, their fifth straight against the Griffs, and will head to St. Bonaventure on Friday and Niagara on Monday. The Bulls are 2-1 against the Bonnies in their last three while they have won 12 straight against the 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 and didn't play SBU.

The Bulls have been on the road for five of their first eight games of the season and they are in the midst of a five-game road swing to close out 2017. The Bulls have traveled to Daytona Beach, FL (1,133 miles), Tempe, AZ (2,190 miles) and New York City (373 miles) over the past three weeks. UB owns a 4-1 road record this season as they have claimed victories over Nebraska, Clemson, UNLV and Columbia. 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 12 road games, UB is outscoring their opponents 67.3 to 60.4 while forcing an average of 18.8 turnovers/game.

The NCAA released its updated RPI (Rating Percentage Index) rankings on Tuesday afternoon and the Bulls ranked 16th in the nation, highest of any MAC school and the third highest of any mid-major program. Buffalo also came in at #7 in the latest College Insider Mid-Major Top-25 polls, highest of any MAC school. The Bulls are 7-1 overall this season with impressive wins over members from the Big Ten (Nebraska), ACC (Clemson), Mountain West (UNLV) and Ivy League (Columbia). The Bulls lone loss this season came to previously nationally-ranked Arizona State, a team that sits in 37th in the latest RPI rankings. Last season, UB reached as high as 12th in the RPI rankings after they opened the season 10-0.

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 7-1 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 13th in the NCAA in assists/game (19.5) as four Bulls are averaging at least 2.0 assists/game so far this season. Last time out, Buffalo was able to collect 18 assists on 27 made field goals as UB downed Columbia at the buzzer. Cierra Dillard led the Bulls with five assists in the victory. In the win over UNLV earlier this season, 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 and have recorded at least 17 helpers in all eight games, 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 29th in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 25.5% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 4.6 made three-pointers made/game as they held Columbia to 7-for-21 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 23.0 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle once through eight games. The Bulls have taken advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 184 total turnovers into 183 points (22.9/game). Last time out against Columbia, the Bulls were able to force 18 Lions turnovers and they turned those into 17 points, winning the points off turnover battle 17-16. 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 120-16 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB completely dominated the Lions in the fast break as they outscored them 16-0 for the game. Over their last two games,
UB owns the 30-0 edge in fast break scoring as they have held three opponents without a fast break bucket this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 36 of their last 40 games over the past two seasons including in 28 of their last 29 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 six occasions including in each of the last five games. They are 5-1 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint on the year. Last time out, the Bulls had their best performance down low as they were able to notch a season-high 44 points inside the paint, winning the battle 44-22. On the year, UB is averaging 31.5 points in the paint and an average of 39.3 over their last three 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 16th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 33.7% from the floor. The Bulls also lead the MAC in scoring defense as they are allowing just 58.2 points/game during their 7-1 start to the season. Last time out, the stingy defense was able to lock down in the second half and allow the Lions just one three-pointer across the final 20 minutes. UB held Columbia to 39.0% shooting from the floor in the win. Over the last three seasons, UB is 50-8 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.

The Bulls have three players within reach of 1,000 career points as junior Cierra Dillard sits at 890 points, Stephanie Reid sits at 864 and Cassie Oursler has 833 career points. UB currently has 23 members of their 1,000 career point club with JoAnna Smith being the last member to surpass 1K as she did so during the 2016-17 campaign. The Bulls have never seen three players go over 1,000 career points in the same season. The last duo of teammates to record 1,000 career points in the same season were assistant coach Kristen Sharkey and Mackenzie Loesing in 2014-15.

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 Columbia 42.9% to 39.0% from the floor. With the win, UB improves to 41-2 over the past three seasons when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent.

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 seven victories this season. Last time out, Oursler had the best game of her career as she was able to notch her third career double-double as she netted a career-best 26 points and 11 rebounds. The senior finished the win over Columbia going 11-for-18 from the floor while also snagging eight offensive rebounds. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 53.9% 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 all season long.

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 ranks second on the Bulls in scoring (13.4 PPG) while leading UB in scoring a team-best five times this season. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 4.1 dimes/game while also ranking 10th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.6). 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 eight games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 7-1 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 890 career points and will aim to surpass the 1,000-point plateau later this season.

Junior forward Brittany Morrison has worked hard over her career to earn playing time for the Bulls and she has proven to be a key component to the UB success. Morrison has been receiving more playing time as of late and she turned in the biggest play of the season to date on Saturday in the win over Columbia. The junior was on the floor for the Bulls final play with 1.2 seconds remaining in a tied game and she produced the game-winning layup at the buzzer. The Ohio native is averaging 13.5 minutes, 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over the Bulls last four games.

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 was a difference maker once again on Saturday in the win over Columbia as she netted five points, six rebounds and two assists in just 14 minutes of work. Ups also drilled a go-ahead three-pointer with just over a minute to go to help the Bulls collect the road win. The Bulls steady hand has produced 17 straight starts and grabbed 5+ rebounds in 10 of her last 11 games dating back to last season. On the year, she is averaging a career-high 8.4 points, a team-best 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists while playing an average of 23.3 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 was averaging 8.5 points and 8.0 assists through the Bulls first two wins of the season before suffering an injury that saw her miss four games. In her first game back from injury last time out, Reid played 26 minutes and recorded four assists and three rebounds. 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 495 career dimes. Reid will become the 2nd UB player with 500 career assists and will be the 23rd in MAC history and first since player since 2014 to do so.