Women's Hoops Set For Road Test At Northern Illinois On Saturday

Women's Hoops Set For Road Test At Northern Illinois On Saturday


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (11-2, 2-0 MAC) will be in search of just their second ever 3-0 start to Mid-American Conference play on Saturday afternoon as they take on the Northern Illinois Huskies at 2:00 pm. Saturday's game between the Bulls and Huskies will be aired live on ESPN3.

This marks the 24th meeting of all-time between the two programs with the Huskies holding the 15-8 edge in the series. UB has won six of the last eight in the series but the Huskies have won the last two including a 89-80 victory at Alumni Arena last season.

After taking care of the Western Michigan Broncos on Wednesday night at home, the Bulls will travel to DeKalb on Saturday afternoon to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies at 2:00 pm. The Huskies enter Saturday's game with a 9-4 overall record and a 1-1 MAC mark after beating Kent State 81-79 last time out behind a 39-point effort from Courtney Woods. The game will air live on ESPN3 on Saturday starting at 2:00 pm ET.

The Bulls improved to 2-0 in MAC play and won their seventh game in their last eight outings on Wednesday night as they handed the Western Michigan Broncos a 71-49 defeat inside Alumni Arena. Junior Cierra Dillard was the catalyst for the UB offense as she netted 23 points on 9-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-4 from behind the arc while senior Stephanie Reid continued her high level of play as she chipped in with eight points and 12 assists, her second straight game with double digit assists and 11th of her career. The stingy Buffalo defense held their fourth opponent under 50 points scored as the Broncos shot just 30.6% from the floor while committing 25 turnovers on the day. Buffalo was able to capitalize on the NIU turnovers by scoring 23 points off of their mishaps.

For just the fifth time in program history and for the first time since 2012-13, the Bulls improved to 2-0 to start the MAC season on Wednesday night. Buffalo will set their sights on just their second-ever 3-0 start to MAC play on Saturday at NIU as the last time the Bulls started 3-0 was in 2012-13. Buffalo has been able to post at least eight MAC victories in all five seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-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 13.6 steals/game which ranks second in the MAC and 6th in the NCAA. Last time out, the Bulls racked up 16 steals, led by Summer Hemphill who notched a career-best five steals in the win over WMU. The Bulls currently have six players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 3.2 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 17th in the NCAA. Senior Stephanie Reid ranks second on the team averaging 2.4 steals as she has produced 167 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 11-2 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. The UB offense ranks fourth in the MAC in scoring, averaging 73.2 points/game.

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 11-2 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 11th in the NCAA in assists/game (19.1) as five Bulls are averaging at least 1.5 assists/game so far this season. Reid leads UB averaging 7.2 helpers while Dillard ranks second averaging 4.4/game. Last time out, Buffalo notched 16 assists on 28 made field goals in the win over WMU. 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 13 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 23.1 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle twice through 13 games. UB currently ranks second in the MAC and 13th in the NCAA forcing 23.1 turnovers/game. The Bulls have taken advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 300 total turnovers into 302 points (23.2/game). Last time out against Western Michigan, the Bulls were able to force 25 turnovers and they turned those into 23 points, winning the points off turnover battle 23-11. UB has forced at least 20 turnovers on 11 occasions this season as they are one of eight teams in the NCAA to do so. Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 21-4 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

Buffalo has begun to dominate down low of late, having tied or won the scoring inside the paint in 10 straight games. The Bulls have only been outscored in the paint in two games this season.
They are 9-2 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint and they dominated the Broncos last time out 44-24 down low. On the year, UB is averaging 34.6 points in the paint and an average of 39.4 over their last seven 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 72 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 nine more victories.

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 13 games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 173-52 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB was dominant out in the fast break as they outscored the Broncos 22-6 in the open court. The Bulls have held three opponents without a fast break bucket and they have won the fast break scoring category in 11 of 13 games overall this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 39 of their last 45 games over the past two seasons inclduing in 31 of their last 33 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 23-0 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 (35.6%) and scoring defense (60.5 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense held Western Michigan to just 49 points last time out as they have now held four opponents this season to under 50 points. Over the last three seasons, UB is 53-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 23-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 8-0 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 was able to win this category once again on Wednesday as they outshot WMU 36.8% to 30.6% in the 22-point victory. When the Bulls shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent, they own a 44-2 record over the past three seasons and are a perfect 10-0 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, 8.8 points, 7.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 steals on the season while appearing in nine games. Buffalo owns a 8-1 record this season with Reid in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid posted eight points, 12 assists, three rebounds and two steals across 32 minutes. She has now notched back-to-back 10+ assist games for the fourth time in her UB career and it marked the 11th time in her career she has record at least 10 assists in a game. 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 37 assists shy of the program record.

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 29.4 minutes, 12.6 points, 4.4 assists, 3.2 steals and 3.2 rebounds while making a team-best 25 three-pointers on the year. Last time out against WMU, Dillard was the best player on the court for the Bulls as she netted a team-high 23 points on 9-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-4 from behind the arc. The junior went on personal 7-0 runs and 10-2 runs in the second half to lift UB to victory. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 4.4 dimes/game while also ranking 16th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.2). 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 two steals in all 13 games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 11-2 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.

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 13 games this season. Last time out, Oursler didn't have her best offensive game but she affected the game in other ways as she netted four points, nine rebounds and three blocks across 22 minutes. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 47.1% from the floor and 76.0% from the charity stripe. Oursler moved into10th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 102 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.

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 was a difference maker for the Bulls as she netted 12 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three blocks off the bench in the win over WMU. The athletically gifted post player is averaging 20.7 minutes, 8.2 points, a team-best 5.8 rebounds and a team-high 1.7 blocks while shooting a team-best 59.5% from the floor on the year.

Junior college transfer Autumn Jones has turned into instant offense off the Buffalo bench as of late and has posted two double digit scoring efforts in her last three games. Jones was electric off the Buffalo bench in the MAC opener against Akron on as she tied a career-high with 18 points on 6-for-9 from the floor and 2-for-3 from deep. On the year, Jones has four games scoring in double figures while averaging 15.5 minutes, 6.2 points, 1.6 steals, 1.5 assists and 1.2 rebounds.

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 26.8 points/game from their non-starters. Last time out, the Buffalo bench was able to post 28 points in the win over WMU led by Summer Hemphill who netted 12 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three blocks while Theresa Onwuka chipped in with eight points. 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 9-0 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.

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 242 career victories while leading UB to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015-16.