Bulls Look To Get Back To Winning Ways At Home On Wednesday Night

Bulls Look To Get Back To Winning Ways At Home On Wednesday Night


BUFFALO, NY - after a heartbreaking overtime loss on the road on Saturday, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (11-3, 2-1 MAC) will look to stay perfect inside Alumni Arena on Wednesday night as they welcome Mid-American Conference east division foe Miami (OH) to Buffalo. The Bulls and RedHawks will tip at 7:00 pm as the game will air live on ESPN3.

This marks the 37th meeting of all-time between the Bulls and RedHawks with Miami owning the 20-16 edge in the series. The Bulls have claimed seven wins over Miami (OH) in their last nine meetings including both games last season as UB defeated the RedHawks by an average of 21.5 points.

After a heartbreaking road loss in overtime to Northern Illinois
on Saturday afternoon, the Bulls will return to the friendly confines of Alumni Arena on Wednesday night as MAC east foe Miami (OH) comes to town. The RedHawks enter with a 9-5 overall record and a 1-2 MAC mark while the Bulls will look to improve on their 11-3 record and 2-1 MAC mark. Tip is set for 7:00 pm on Wednesday as the game will air on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call or on the radio on ESPN1520 with Matt Mattia on the call.

Buffalo played in their first overtime game in two seasons on Saturday afternoon against the Northern Illinois Huskies but their comeback attempt fell just short as they lost 86-84. Trailing by nine with two minutes to go, the UB defense forced crucial turnovers and Cierra Dillard drilled a pair of triples in the final 30 seconds to tie the game and send it to overtime. Buffalo had a pair of chances to tie the game in overtime but they weren't able to convert. Dillard finished off her game with a team-best 18 points while three UB players recorded double-doubles. Cassie Oursler netted 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks while Stephanie Reid notched 14 points, 11 assists and six steals and Summer Hemphill finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

Alumni Arena has been nice to the Bulls over the past four seasons as UB owns a 44-17 record in front of their home fans. Buffalo has started the 2017-18 campaign with four straight impressive victories after downing Western Michigan 71-49 on January 3. The Bulls are winning their home contests by an average of 24.3 points/game. 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 69.1 points/game while limiting their opponents to just 55.8 points/game at Alumni Arena.

The Bulls pride themselves on defense and they have turned into one of the best teams in the nation in creating steals. Buffalo currently averages 13.9 steals/game which leads the MAC and ranks 4th in the NCAA. Last time out, Buffalo racked up 19 steals as Stephanie Reid notched six and Summer Hemphill finished with four. The Bulls currently have five players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 3.1 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 20th in the NCAA. Senior Stephanie Reid ranks second on the team averaging 2.8 steals as she has produced 173 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 11-3 start. The UB offense has now produced five games of 80+ points this season, marking the most 80+ point games in a season since joining the MAC in 1998-99. The five 80+ games are the most in a season by the Bulls since doing it nine times during the 1997-98 season when UB was in the Mid-Continent Conference (Now called the Summit League). The UB offense ranks fourth in the MAC in scoring, averaging 74.0 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 11-3 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 10th in the NCAA in assists/game (19.0) as five Bulls are averaging at least 1.5 assists/game so far this season. Reid leads UB averaging 7.6 helpers while Dillard ranks second averaging 4.4/game. Last time out, Buffalo notched 18 assists on 32 made field goals in the overtime loss to NIU as Reid notched a team-best 11 helpers. 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 14 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 23.5 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle twice through 14 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 10th in the NCAA forcing 23.5 turnovers/game. UB forced 29 NIU turnovers last time out as they are now one of five teams in the NCAA to force 20+ turnovers in at least 12 games this season (Auburn, Houston, Miami (FL), Jackson St.).  The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in six straight games. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 329 total turnovers into 321 points (22.9/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 21-5 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

Entering Wednesday's MAC contest against the Miami RedHawks, the Bulls came in at #38 in the latest NCAA RPI Poll which was released on Monday morning. The Bulls are the second highest ranked MAC team behind Ball State (24) and one of eight MAC teams inside the top-100. UB has posted impressive wins over three teams that have a top-100 RPI including St. John's (39), Western Michigan (68) and Nebraska (74). The MAC is ranked as the seventh best conference in the NCAA in regards to RPI.

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 14 games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 179-54 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB was able to outscore the Huskies 6-2 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 12 of 14 games overall this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 40 of their last 46 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.

Buffalo has begun to dominate down low of late, having tied or won the scoring inside the paint in 11 straight games. The Bulls have only been outscored in the paint in two games this season.
They are 9-3 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint and they once again dominated the paint on Saturday in the loss at NIU, 40-28. On the year, UB is averaging 34.9 points in the paint and an average of 39.4 over their last seven 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. 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 rank 1st in the MAC in field goal percentage defense (35.6%) and 2nd in scoring defense (62.4 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense has 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.

A focus of this Buffalo team has been defending the three-point shot and the Bulls have taken that to heart through 14 games this season. The Bulls rank 1st in the MAC and 21st in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 26.9% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 5.1 made three-pointers made/game as they held a good three point shooting NIU team to just six makes on Saturday. The Bulls have held six opponents to less that five three pointers this season while also holding Clemson to no three pointers, marking the first time that has happened since November 14, 2015 when they held LIU Brooklyn to 0-for-14 from deep.

The Bulls have three players within reach of 1,000 career points as junior Cierra Dillard sits at 965 points, Stephanie Reid sits at 937 and Cassie Oursler has 907 career points. Dillard went over the 900 career point plateau against St. Bonaventure, Reid did so at St. John's and Oursler did it last time out against NIU. 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 wasn't able to shoot a higher percentage than the Huskies on Saturday which resulted in a loss as they were outshot 35.5% to 33.7%. 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 and is the midst of her best basketball right now. The senior has been great since returning from injury as she is averaging 29.7 minutes, 9.3 points, 7.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 steals on the season while appearing in 10 games. Buffalo owns a 8-2 record this season with Reid in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid posted her third double-double of the season and eighth of her career as she netted 14 points, 11 assists and six steals across a team-high 43 minutes of action. Reid has now posted three straight games of 10+ assists for the first time in her impressive UB career as she now has 12 career double digit assist efforts. 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 26 assists shy of the program record. The senior also joined Catherine Jacob (1995-99) as the only players in UB history to record 900+ points, 500+ assists and 300+ rebounds in their career.

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 29.5 minutes, 13.0 points, 4.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals while making a team-best 29 three-pointers on the year. Last time out against NIU, Dillard finished the game strong as she drained a pair of three pointers in the final 30 seconds to send UB to overtime. The junior finished off her game with a team-best 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and a steal. 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 20th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.1). 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 one steal in all 14 games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 11-3 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 965 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 11 of 14 games this season. Last time out, Oursler produced her second double-double of the season as she netted 16 points, a career-high 12 rebounds, four blocks and two steals across 28 minutes of work. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting 47.6% from the floor and 75.0% from the charity stripe. Oursler moved into 9th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 106 career rejections across her career. 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 netted her first double-double of the season and the fifth of her career as she netted 14 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three blocks in the loss to NIU. The athletically gifted post player is averaging 21.9 minutes, 8.6 points, a team-best 6.1 rebounds and a team-high 1.8 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 three double digit scoring efforts in her last four games. Jones hit a crucial three pointer in the fourth quarter on Saturday as UB forced overtime. The Junior finished the game with 10 points, two rebounds and two steals. On the year, Jones has five games scoring in double figures while averaging 16.1 minutes, 6.5 points, 1.6 steals, 1.4 assists and 1.2 rebounds.