Bulls Set For Road Battle Against Ball State On Saturday

Bulls Set For Road Battle Against Ball State On Saturday


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (12-3, 3-1 MAC) sets their sights on a 4-1 MAC record on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm as they travel to Indiana to take on the Ball State Cardinals (14-1, 3-1 MAC). Saturday's game against the Cardinals will air live on ESPN3.

This marks the 26th meeting of all-time between the two programs with the Cardinals owning the 16-9 edge over the Bulls. The Cardinals have won three of the last four against the Bulls with UB's lone win coming last season in the MAC Quarterfinals when they handed Ball State the 69-65 defeat.

After claiming the 72-67 victory over Miami (OH) at home on Wednesday night, the UB women's basketball team will hit the road for their next two games. Buffalo will travel to Ball State on Saturday afternoon for a showdown with their MAC West foe before heading to Ohio on Wednesday. The Cardinals enter Saturday's game with a 14-1 overall record and a 3-1 MAC mark after earning three straight conference victories. Tip is set for 2:00 pm on Saturday and the game will air on ESPN3.

The Bulls were able to improve to 3-1 in MAC play as they held off the Miami (OH) RedHawks for a 72-67 home victory. With the win, UB improved to 5-0 at Alumni Arena this season while also matching the best start to MAC play in program history. The Bulls were led on Wednesday night by junior Cierra Dillard who netted 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals while point guard Stephanie Reid netted a season-high 17 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals in the win. As a team, Buffalo was able to force 21 turnovers and they turned those into 16 points while dominating the paint, 34-18. Buffalo was able to lead the game from start to finish as they improved to 9-0 this season when holding their opponent to under 70 points scored.

With their win over Miami (OH) on Wednesday night at Alumni Arena, the Bulls matched the program record for their best start to the MAC season as they improved to 3-1. The Bulls have earned victories over Western Michigan, Akron and Miami by an average of 16.7 points/game. The 3-1 start to MAC season ties the best start with the 1998-99 and 2012-13 seasons. Buffalo has only been 4-1 to start MAC play once, in 1998-99, the first season joining the MAC.

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 14.0 steals/game which leads the MAC and ranks 4th in the NCAA. Last time out, Buffalo racked up 15 steals as Stephanie Reid notched four and Summer Hemphill secured three steals. 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 12-3 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 73.9 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 12-3 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 10th in the NCAA in assists/game (18.8) as five Bulls are averaging at least 1.5 assists/game so far this season. Reid leads UB averaging 7.5 helpers while Dillard ranks second averaging 4.6/game. Last time out, Buffalo notched 16 assists on 25 made field goals in the win over Miami as Dillard notched a team-best eight 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 15 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 23.3 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle twice through 15 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 9th in the NCAA forcing 23.3 turnovers/game. UB forced 21 Miami turnovers last time out as they are now one of two teams in the NCAA to force 20+ turnovers in at least 13 games this season (Auburn). The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in seven straight games. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 350 total turnovers into 337 points (22.5/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 22-5 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

Entering Saturday's MAC contest at Ball State, the Bulls came in at #37 in the latest NCAA RPI Poll which was released on Friday morning. The Bulls are the second highest ranked MAC team behind Ball State (28) 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 73 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 eight 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 15 games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 187-54 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB was able to outscore Miami 8-0. The Bulls have held four opponents without a fast break bucket and they have won the fast break scoring category in 13 of 15 games overall this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 41 of their last 47 games over the past two seasons inclduing in 32 of their last 34 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 12 straight games. The Bulls have only been outscored in the paint in two games this season. They are 10-3 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint and they once again dominated the paint on Wednesday in the win over Miami, 34-18. On the year, UB is averaging 34.8 points in the paint and an average of 39.1 over their last eight 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 (36.1%) and 1st in scoring defense (62.7 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense has held four opponents this season to under 50 points. Over the last three seasons, UB is 54-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 23-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 9-0 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 15 games this season. The Bulls rank 1st in the MAC and 25th in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 27.0% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 5.1 made three-pointers made/game as they held Miami (OH) to just six makes on Wednesday. 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 984 points, Stephanie Reid sits at 954 and Cassie Oursler has 923 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 RedHawks on Wednesday but they were still able to collect a win as Miami shot 44.7% and UB shot 43.9%. 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 30.4 minutes, 10.0 points, 7.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 steals on the season while appearing in 11 games. Buffalo owns a 9-2 record this season with Reid in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid posted another strong game as she had a season-high 17 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals. Reid has now posted three games of 10+ assists in her last four games and has now recorded 12 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 19 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 30.0 minutes, a team-high 13.4 points, 4.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 steals while making a team-best 32 three-pointers on the year. Last time out against Miami, Dillard finished the game with a team-high 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 4.7 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 15 games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 12-3 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 984 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 12 of 15 games this season. Last time out, Oursler produced 16 points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals across 34 minutes of work. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and a team-best 1.8 blocks while shooting 48.9% from the floor and 73.5% from the charity stripe. Oursler moved into 7th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 110 career rejections as a Bull. 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 six points, six rebounds and three steals in just 21 minutes after getting in early foul trouble. The athletically gifted post player is averaging 21.8 minutes, 8.4 points, a team-best 6.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting a team-best 59.5% from the floor on the year.

With the dominant 89-66 victory on December 30th 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 243 career victories while leading UB to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015-16.