BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (12-3, 3-1 MAC) improved to 5-0 in front of their home fans on Wednesday night as they fought off the Miami (OH) RedHawks and collected the 72-67 victory. The 3-1 start to MAC play matches the best start in program history as the Bulls also started out 3-1 in 2012-13.
The Bulls saw three players score in double figures on Wednesday led by junior Cierra Dillard who netted a game-high 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals across 37 minutes of work. Senior Cassie Oursler finished the game with a strong second half and posted 16 points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals while going 6-for-8 from the floor.
Senior point guard Stephanie Reid continued her strong play as she finished with a season-high 17 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals as she moved into 18th place on the Mid-American Conference's All-Time assists charts with 553 in her illustrious career.
The difference in the game for the Bulls was their defensive intensity as they were able to force 21 Miami turnovers, marking the 13th game this season the Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers. UB turned their turnover opportunities into 16 points as they outscored the RedHawks 16-5 in points off of turnovers.
After Leah Purvis hit a triple to tie the game at five, the Bulls were able to go on a 9-0 run in the first quarter to take the 14-5 lead as Oursler, Reid, Autumn Jones and Theresa Onwuka each netted a bucket. The RedHawks were able to close out the first quarter with a jumper to cut the UB lead to 14-7 through 10 minutes.
The two sides went back-and-forth to start the second quarter before four straight free throws from Oursler extended the UB lead out to nine, 23-14. Miami scored five straight to cut the UB lead to 24-20 before Jones finished off a fast break layup after a great feed from Reid to send UB to the locker room with the slim 26-22 lead.
The RedHawks opened the second half strong as they cut the UB lead to one, 28-27 after a pair of free throws but Katherine Ups and Reid connected on buckets to get the lead back to five. Midway through the quarter, Miami scored five straight to tie the game, 32-32, but back-to-back triples by Reid and a layup by Dillard forced a Miami timeout as UB took the 40-32 lead. The RedHawks fought back and cut the lead to four before Summer Hemphill finished the quarter with a fancy layup to give UB the 47-41 edge heading into the final quarter.
Just over three minutes into the final frame a pair of layups by Oursler extended the UB lead to 11, 58-47, but the RedHawks wouldn't back down as they were able to creep back into the game. Megan Galloway connected on a layup and free throw with 2:16 left to cut the UB lead to four, 62-58, but Oursler responded with another pretty layup after a Reid assist to give UB the 64-58 edge. A Dillard jumper was sandwiched by a pair of Miami triples to cut the Buffalo lead down to two, 66-64, with 25 seconds remaining. After Dillard drilled a pair of free throws, the RedHawks sank three freebies to make the score 68-67 in favor of UB. Reid connected on two free throws with 13 seconds remaining to give Buffalo the 70-67 and Dillard recorded a steal on the ensuing Miami possession to seal the win for UB as they posted the 72-67 home victory.
As a team, Buffalo was able to win the battle in the paint as they outscored the RedHawks 34-18 while also turning 15 offensive rebounds into 14 second chance points. UB also continued to get out in transition as they held the 8-0 edge in fast break scoring as they have now held four opponents without a fast break point this season.
Coming off the bench, Onwuka had a strong performance as she netted seven points, two rebounds and two assists. Hemphill finished with six points, six rebounds and three steals across 21 minutes in the win.
The Bulls were able to improve to 10-0 this season when holding the lead at halftime and 9-0 when holding an opponent to under 70 points scored.
Buffalo will hit the road once again on Saturday as they head to Muncie, IN to take on the Ball State Cardinals. Saturday's showdown will tip at 2:00 pm.