CIERRA DILLARD INTERVIEW
MUNCIE, IN – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (13-3, 4-1 MAC) collected their biggest win to date on Saturday afternoon as they claimed the 84-80 road victory over the Ball State Cardinals (14-2, 3-2 MAC). Buffalo improved to 4-1 in MAC play for the first time since 1998-99, the Bulls first year in the MAC.
The Buffalo defense continued to force turnovers on Saturday as they forced 23 turnovers, marking the 14th game this season in which UB has forced at least 20 turnovers. UB was also able to turn those 23 turnovers into 27 points.
After the Cardinals opened up the game with a quick 6-2 lead, the Buffalo offense began to fire on all cylinders as they went on a quick 13-0 run to take over the 15-6 lead behind two triples from Cierra Dillard and a three from Stephanie Reid. The Cardinals were able to cut the lead to 15-10 but Summer Hemphill responded with a layup and Autumn Jones drilled her first triple of the quarter in front of her hometown crowd. Buffalo then ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run as Hemphill made an acrobatic reverse layup and Jones hit another three to give UB the 29-12 edge through 10 minutes.
The Cardinals made an early run in the second quarter but UB was able to sustain the run as Cassie Oursler finished off a pretty layup after a perfect feed from Reid to make the score 34-19 in favor of the Bulls. Ball State then went on a 9-2 run over the next two minutes to bring the score within 36-28 but Jones was able to end that run with a quick move and baseline jumper. Buffalo finished the half on a 7-2 run to take the 45-33 lead into the locker room as Dillard drilled her fourth first half triple and then fed Hemphill for a layup at the buzzer.
Ball State came out strong in the third quarter and turned what looked like could be a blowout into a close game. The Cardinals came out of the locker room on fire as they went on 15-0 run to take the 48-45 lead over the Bulls. Dillard was able to end the Ball State run with a jumper that gave her 1,000 career points and the Bulls took over the 52-48 lead after Katherine Ups converted a layup. The two teams went back-and-forth over the final four minutes of the quarter as Reid made a creative layup in the lane to give UB the 61-58 lead but the Cardinals closed out the quarter with three straight to send it to the fourth tied, 61-61.
The Cardinals opened the final quarter on a 6-4 run to take the 67-65 lead before Katherine Ups decided to take over the game, draining three straight triples to force a Ball State timeout and give UB the 74-67 lead with 6:03 left in the game. The final five minutes of the game were dominated by Cassie Oursler as the senior scored eight straight UB points to give the Bulls the 10-point lead, 82-72, with 2:19 left in the game. Ball State fought down the stretch as they netted eight straight points but Reid iced the game with two late free throws to give UB the 84-80 road victory.
Buffalo saw all five of their starters score in double figures on Saturday as Dillard led the way offensively netting 20 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds across 33 minutes in the win. After netting her 16th point of the game, Dillard went over 1,000 career points plateau.
Oursler finished off her fifth career double-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and two steals while Hemphill finished off her game with 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Katherine Ups scored 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists over 34 minutes while sparking a Buffalo win with three straight triples.
Reid was able to net 11 points, nine assists, two rebounds and a steal while moving into 17th place on the MAC's all-time assist charts as she has 562 career helpers.
As a team, Buffalo held the 38-26 edge in scoring in the paint as they won this battle for the 13th straight game. UB was able to hold the 42-37 edge in rebounding while turning 15 offensive rebounds into 13 second chance points. The Bulls also held the 45.8% to 44.4% edge in field goal percentage as they improved to 11-0 this season when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent.
The Bulls will return to the court on Wednesday evening as they head to Athens, OH to take on MAC East foe Ohio at 7:00 pm.