BUFFALO, NY – Behind a strong second half surge, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (11-2, 2-0 MAC) remained unbeaten in Mid-American Conference play as they cruised to the 71-49 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos. The stingy Bulls held their fourth opponent of the season under 50 points scored as the Broncos turned the ball over 25 times and shot just 30.6% from the floor.
Junior Cierra Dillard was the catalyst for the Bulls on Wednesday night in front of the home fans at Alumni Arena as she poured in 23 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in just 23 minutes of work while shooting 9-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-4 from deep. Stephanie Reid continued her strong play at the point as she netted eight points, 12 assists, three rebounds and two steals, notching back-to-back games with double digit assists for just the third time in her illustrious Buffalo career. The 12 assists for Reid are the fourth most in a single game in program history as she has now notched 11 games with at least 10 dimes including three this season in just nine games played.
After shooting just 20.0% from the floor in the first quarter, the Bulls trailed the visiting Broncos 12-8 before the offense found their rhythm.
After the Broncos made the score 15-8 with a triple to start the second quarter, the Bulls took over the quarter as they were able to go on 13-2 run to take the 21-17 lead behind three points from Theresa Onwuka and a jumper from Summer Hemphill off the bench. After exchanging buckets, Reid connected on a triple and Katherine Ups made a jumper to send UB to the locker room with the 28-21 lead.
The third quarter proved to be the Bulls best quarter offensively as they were able to hold the 22-12 edge in scoring. Summer Hemphill opened up the quarter with back-to-back layups and Brittany Morrison drained a jumper after a nice feed from Reid to give UB the 34-25 lead. The Broncos cut the UB lead to seven before Dillard decided to take over the game as she went on a personal 7-0 run that was capped by a deep triple that gave Buffalo the 14 points lead, 41-27. A nifty layup from Mariah Suchan gave UB their biggest lead of the quarter, 50-31, before the Broncos made a layup in the final seconds of the third to send the game to the fourth with UB leading 50-33.
With the 56-40 lead just over two minutes into the final quarter, Dillard once again decided to take over the scoring load for the Bulls as she went on a personal 10-2 run to extend the lead to 66-42 as she netted back-to-back three pointers and ended the run with a fast break layup after another Reid lead pass. Buffalo was able to hold their own down the stretch of the fourth quarter to earn the 71-49 victory in front of the home fans.
Off the bench, Hemphill had an impressive game for UB as she was able to net 12 points, seven rebounds, a career-high five steals and three blocks across just 20 minutes. The sophomore went 5-for-9 from the floor as she has now connected on a team-best 59.5% of her shots on the year.
Onwuka finished off her strong bench performance with eight points, two rebounds and a steal while Brittany Morrison continued her steady play with four points and six rebounds in just 14 minutes of work. Earning her eight start of the season, Mariah Suchan was efficient on both ends of the court finishing 3-for-4 from the floor with six points, two rebounds, two steals and a block.
Oursler didn't have her best night offensively but finished the game with four points, nine rebounds, three blocks and a steal in the victory while Hanna Hall chipped in with three points and a rebound off the bench.
As a team, the Bulls were able to control nearly every statistical category as they outscored the Broncos 44-24 inside the paint and won the fast break category 22-6. Buffalo was also able to dominate the turnover battle as they forced 25 turnovers while only committing nine themselves. UB was able to turn the 25 Western Michigan turnovers into 23 points while also winning the field goal percentage battle 36.8% to 30.6%. UB improved to 10-0 this season when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent.
The Bulls will return to the road on Saturday afternoon as they head to DeKalb, IL to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies at 2:00 pm. The Bulls will be looking for just their second 3-0 start in MAC play in program history, as they did so in 2012-13.