Women's Hoops Opens Up 2018 At Home Against Western Michigan On Wednesday Night

Autumn Jones


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (10-2, 1-0 MAC) returns to Alumni Arena on Wednesday night for their first home game of 2018 and their first game in Buffalo since December 7. The Bulls will play host to MAC west foe Western Michigan (8-5, 1-0 MAC) at 7:00 pm. Wednesday's game will air live on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call.

Wednesday's game can also be listened to on ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will get you started with the UB women's basketball pre-game show starting at 6:30 pm.

This marks the 23rd meeting between the two programs in history with the series being split evenly, 11-11. Buffalo is 4-2 against the Broncos over the past six matchups as they downed the Broncos 62-47 in Kalamazoo last season in their lone meeting.

The Buffalo Bulls and Western Michigan Broncos will meet on Wednesday night inside Alumni Arena after both squads opened MAC play with victories on Saturday afternoon. The Bulls downed Akron while the Broncos handed Bowling Green a loss. Western Michigan enters with an overall record of 8-5  and have won four straight games while UB enters with a 10-2 mark and riding a two-game winning streak. The home MAC opener for UB will air live on ESPN3 or you can tune your radio into ESPN1520 starting at 6:30 pm as Matt Mattia will get you ready for action with the UB women's basketball pre-game show.

The Bulls opened up Mid-American Conference play in impressive fashion on Saturday afternoon as they collected a 89-66 road victory over the Akron Zips to close out 2017 with a 10-2 record. The Buffalo offense was crisp from the start on Saturday as they were able to net a season-high 89 points while shooting a season-best 51.5% from the floor. The stingy Buffalo defense also held the Zips to just 34.5% shooting while forcing 20 turnovers for the 10th time this season. Buffalo was led offensively by point guard Stephanie Reid who was able to notch her seventh career double-double as she finished with 11 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals. Center Cassie Oursler continued her steady play for the Bulls down low as she notched a team-best 18 points and dished out a career-high five assists while Autumn Jones came off the bench and produced a career-high tying 18 points and two steals.

With the dominant 89-66 victory on Saturday afternoon at Akron, UB head coach Felisha Legette-Jack became just the second coach in program history to record 100 wins at Buffalo. The impressive feat by Coach Jack was accomplished in just over five seasons as it took her 172 games. It took the Bulls all-time wins leader Sal Buscaglia 171 games to record his 100th victory at UB during the 1995-96 season. Entering her sixth season as the helm of the Bulls, Felisha Legette-Jack has turned into one of the best head coaches in the MAC as she has guided UB to back-to-back 20+ win seasons and Buffalo has won 17+ games in four straight seasons. Over her illustrious coaching career, Legette-Jack has notched 241 career victories while leading UB to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015-16.

Alumni Arena has been nice to the Bulls over the past four seasons as UB owns a 43-17 record in front of their home fans. Buffalo has started the 2017-18 campaign with three straight impressive victories but haven't been home since a 73-47 victory over Canisius on December 7. The Bulls wrapped up their 2016-17 home 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 68.9 points/game while limiting their opponents to just 56.2 points/game at Alumni Arena.

For just the fifth time since joining the MAC and for the first time since 2012-13, the UB women's basketball team will set their sights on a 2-0 start to MAC play on Wednesday against Western Michigan. Buffalo has only started out MAC play 3-0 once in program history and have won at least eight conference games in every season under coach Jack.

The Bulls pride themselves on defense and they have turned into one of the best teams in the nation in steals. Buffalo currently averages 13.3 steals/game which ranks second in the MAC and 6th in the NCAA. The Bulls currently have six players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 3.3 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 15th in the NCAA. Senior Stephanie Reid ranks second on the team averaging 2.5 steals as she has produced 165 career thefts.

The Buffalo offense underwent a change this offseason to become a quicker, more effective unit and that has produced some strong offensive efforts during the Bulls 10-2 start. The UB offense has produced four games of 80+ points this season, marking the most 80+ point games in a season since joining the MAC in 1998-99. The four 80+ games are tied for the most by the Bulls in a season since doing it nine times during the 1997-98 season.

Despite missing star point guard Stephanie Reid for four games earlier this season, the Bulls have been able to dish out their fair share of assists during their 10-2 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 11th in the NCAA in assists/game (19.3) as five Bulls are averaging at least 1.5 assists/game so far this season. Reid leads UB averaging 6.6 helpers while Dillard ranks second averaging 4.6/game. Last time out, Buffalo notched 24 assists on 35 made field goals. In a 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 six games with at least 20 assists and have recorded at least 15 helpers in all 12 games, proving that team work and sharing the ball equate to victories on the court.

The pesky Buffalo defense has been able to force an average of 22.9 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle twice through 12 games. UB currently ranks second in the MAC and 14th in the NCAA forcing 22.9 turnovers/game. The Bulls have taken advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 275 total turnovers into 279 points (23.3/game). Last time out against Akron, the Bulls were able to force 20 turnovers and they turned those into 25 points, winning the points off turnover battle 25-12. UB has forced at least 20 turnovers on 10 occasions this season. Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 20-4 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

Winning the battle inside the paint has been a key to the Bulls early season success as they have won or tied the paint scoring in 10 of 12 games, including in each of the last nine games. They are 8-2 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint on the year. Last time out, UB was able to own the 40-24 edge in scoring inside the paint as they downed Akron. On the year, UB is averaging 33.8 points in the paint and an average of 38.7 over their last six wins.

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 impressive senior class has accumulated 71 victories together and they are now the winningest senior class since the Bulls joined the MAC in 1998-99. No other senior class in the Bulls division I history have put together three 20+ win seasons, which this group is looking to accomplish this year with 10 more victories.

One of the keys to success each and every game for the Bulls is winning the rebounding battle. Last time out, the Bulls were able to outrebound Akron 37-34 as they earned their 10th win of the season. On the season, UB is grabbing an average of 40.4 rebounds inclduing 13,9 offensive rebounds/game. The Bulls have won or tied the rebounding battle in each of their last six wins.

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 12 games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 151-46 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB earned the 8-4 victory in fast break scoring as they downed Akron. The Bulls have held three opponents without a fast break bucket and they have won the fast break scoring category in 10 of 12 games this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 38 of their last 44 games over the past two seasons inclduing in 30 of their last 32 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. Legette-Jack's goal for the team is to keep their opponent under 60 points as UB is 22-0 when doing so across the past two 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 lead the MAC in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 36.1% from the floor. The Bulls also rank 2nd in the MAC in scoring defense as they are allowing just 61.5 points/game during their 10-2 start to the season. Over the last three seasons, UB is 52-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 22-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 7-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points scored.

The Bulls have three players within reach of 1,000 career points as junior Cierra Dillard sits at 924 points, Stephanie Reid sits at 915 and Cassie Oursler has 887 career points. Dillard went over the 900 career point plateau against St. Bonaventure and Reid did so at St. John's. Dillard will look to become just the sixth UB player to reach the 1,000 point plateau during her junior season. 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 had their best shooting performance of the season last time out as they went 35-for-68 from the floor (51.5%) while holding the Zips to just 34.5% shooting in the UB win. When the Bulls shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent, they own a 43-2 record over the past three seasons and are a perfect 9-0 this season when doing so.

Senior point guard Stephanie Reid has turned into the best floor general in the MAC over her impressive four-year UB career The senior has been solid since returning from injury as she is averaging 27.8 minutes, 8.9 points, 6.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 steals on the season while appearing in eight games. Buffalo owns a 7-1 record this season with Reid in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid was able to post her seventh career double-double as she netted 11 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals across 29 minutes of work. The 10 assists marked the 10th time in her UB career that Reid has notched double digit assists. Earlier this season, Reid became just the second UB player and 23rd player in MAC history to go over 500 career assists and the first in the conference since 2014. This in an impressive feat for a player who missed half of her freshman campaign. Reid has continued her climb to become the Bulls all-time leader in assists as she sits just 49 assists shy of the program record.

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 10 of 12 games this season. Last time out, Oursler had another strong game as she led UB with 18 points, a career-high five assists and three rebounds. The five-assist effort by Oursler was impressive as her court vision is becoming an asset for the Bulls. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 50.3% from the floor and 76.0% from the charity stripe. Oursler moved into 10th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 99 career rejections. 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.

Junior college transfer Autumn Jones has turned into instant offense off the Buffalo bench as of late and has posted back-to-back double digit scoring games in a pair of wins for UB. Jones was electric off the Buffalo bench against Akron on Saturday as she tied a career-high with 18 points on 6-for-9 from the floor and 2-for-3 from deep. The Indianapolis native also posted her third straight game with two steals while dishing out two assists and grabbing two rebounds in the win. On the year, Jones has four games scoring in double figures while averaging 15.6 minutes, 6.7 points, 1.7 steals, 1.5 assists and 1.3 rebounds.

Junior guard Cierra Dillard has turned into a fan favorite as her flashy passes and her pure talent has been on display all season long. The Rochester native is averaging 29.9 minutes, 11.8 points, 4.6 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.3 rebounds while making a team-best 22 three-pointers on the year. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 4.6 dimes/game while also ranking 15th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.3). 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 eight of the Bulls 12 games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 10-2 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 924 career points and will aim to surpass the 1,000-point plateau later this season. She also earned MAC East Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career earlier this year
The Bulls have been waiting for sophomore Summer Hemphill to break out and prove she is a dominant post presence and she might be in the midst of that right now. The Buffalo native is becoming a reliable source of scoring and rebounding for the Bulls of late as last time out she netted nine points, four rebounds and four blocks across 21 minutes of action. The athletically gifted post player is averaging 20.8 minutes, 7.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting a team-best 60.0% from the floor on the year.

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 has produced. Last time out, Morrison notched three points, five rebounds and two steals in 16 minutes as UB cruised to the win at Akron. On the year she is averaging 5.4 points and 4.5 rebounds while the Buffalo bench is producing an average of 26.7 points/game.

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. Last time out, the senior played 23 minutes and finished with 12 points and three offensive rebounds to lead UB to their 10th win of the season. The Bulls steady hand has produced 21 straight starts while averaging a career-high 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists while playing an average of 23.9 minutes/game.