Bulls Welcome The Defending MAC Champs To Alumni Arena On Saturday Afternoon

Bulls Welcome The Defending MAC Champs To Alumni Arena On Saturday Afternoon

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BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (14-3, 5-1 MAC) will play host to the defending Mid-American Conference Champions, the Toledo Rockets, on Saturday afternoon inside Alumni Arena. Tip is set for 2:00 pm on Saturday and it will air live on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call. You can also tune your radio into ESPN1520 on Saturday as Matt Mattia will get you ready for action with the UB Women's Basketball pregame show starting at 1:30 pm.

Saturday's game will be the Bulls Girls Day Out game as there will be a Victor E. Bull bobblehead giveaway, pregame photos with American Beauty, Superwoman and Wonder Woman and postgame autographs with the UB Basketball team.

THE SERIES
This marks the 26th meeting between the two programs all-time with the Rockets holding the dominant 21-4 edge over the Bulls. The inaugural game in the series took place during the 1998-99 campaign. The Rockets have won four straight in the series including all three meetings last season by an average of 12.7 points/game.

SCOUTING THE ROCKETS
The Toledo Rockets enter Saturday's game at Buffalo with a 13-5 overall record and a 4-2 MAC mark as they have collected three straight conference victories. The Rockets are coming off of a 72-66 victory at home on Wednesday night over the Ball State Cardinals. Leading the Rockets offensively is Kaayla McIntyre who is averaging 15.0 points, a team-best 8.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting a MAC-high 63.7% from the floor. Junior Mikaela Boyd is enjoying a strong start to her season as she is averaging 10.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and a team-best 4.2 assists. As a team, Toledo is scoring an average of 66.6 points/game while allowing an average of 63.6. Toledo struggles from the free throw line as they are connecting on just 66.3% of their freebies this season.

BULLS WELCOME THE DEFENDING MAC CHAMPS ON SATURDAY
After collecting their third straight MAC win on Wednesday night at Ohio, the UB women's basketball team will return home for their first weekend home game of the season on Saturday. The Bulls enter with a 14-3 overall record and a 5-1 MAC mark while the Toledo Rockets enter with a 13-5 overall record and a 4-2 MAC mark after winning three straight conference games. Tip is set for 2:00 pm on Saturday afternoon inside Alumni Arena as the game will air live on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Amy Audibert on the call. You can also listen in on the radio on ESPN1520 with Matt Mattia on the call starting at 1:30 pm with the UB women's basketball pregame show.

BULLS WIN THIRD STRAIGHT ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT
The Bulls were able to hang onto their third straight MAC win on Wednesday night as they took down the Ohio Bobcats on the road by the score of 67-63. With the win, Buffalo improved to 14-3 overall and 5-1 in MAC play, setting program best marks to start MAC play and through the first 17 games of the season. Sophomore Summer Hemphill helped guide UB to victory as she was able to post her second double-double of the season, finishing with a career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds while going 7-for-9 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the charity stripe. Junior Cierra Dillard continued her high level of play during the MAC season as she posted 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists, marking the first time in her UB career that she has notched back-to-back 20 point efforts. The Bulls were also able to shoot 44.9% from the floor as they improved to 12-0 when shooting a higher percentage than their opponent.

UB LOOK TO ADD TO BEST START IN PROGRAM D1 HISTORY
With their win over Ohio on the road on Wednesday, the Bulls were able to set a pair of program records as they improved to 14-3 overall and 5-1 in the MAC. The 14-3 start to the season is the best start in the programs division I history, 24 years. Also the Bulls 5-1 MAC start is the best start to MAC play since joining the conference in 1998-99. Buffalo has claimed conference victories over Western Michigan, Akron, Miami (OH), Ball State and Ohio by an average of 9.7 points/game while outscoring all opponents this season by an average of 14.0 points/game. The Bulls program record for wins in a season since joining division I is 23 which they did during the 1995-96 campaign when UB was in the Mid-Continent Conference (Summit League).

BUFFALO COMES IN AT 27 IN THE LATEST NCAA RPI RANKINGS
After posting a big road win over Ohio, a team that is ranked #85 in the latest RPI, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team checked in at #27 in the latest NCAA RPI Rankings that were released on Friday morning. UB has posted six wins over teams currently ranked inside the top-100 in the RPI rankings as they downed St. John's (#34), Ball State (#39), Nebraska (#73), Ohio (85), Western Michigan (#93) and Delaware (#99) by an average of 10.2 points/game. Earlier this season, UB came in as high as #14 in the RPI rankings. The MAC is ranked as the eighth best conference in the NCAA in regards to RPI.

HOME SWEET HOME
The Bulls will return to Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon looking to improve to 6-0 on the season including a pair of wins over MAC opponents. The Bulls are averaging 75.8 points/game while shooting 42.2% from the floor so far this season at home while limiting opponents to just 55.4 points/game. 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. 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 69.4 points/game while limiting their opponents to just 55.6 points/game at Alumni Arena.

BULLS RANK 4TH IN NCAA IN STEALS
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 13.8 steals/game which leads the MAC and ranks 4th in the NCAA. Last time out, Buffalo racked up just nine steals as Stephanie Reid notched three and six other players secured one steal. The Bulls currently have six players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 3.0 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 177 career thefts.

LETS GET OFFENSIVE
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 14-3 start. The UB offense has now produced six games of 80+ points this season, marking the most 80+ point games in a season since joining the MAC in 1998-99. The six 80+ games are the most in a season overall 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 74.5 points/game.

HELPING HANDS
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 14-3 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 12th in the NCAA in assists/game (18.7) as five Bulls are averaging at least 1.4 assists/game so far this season. Reid leads UB averaging 7.5 helpers which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 6th in the NCAA while Dillard ranks second on the team averaging 4.7/game. Last time out, Buffalo notched 15 assists on 22 made field goals in the win over Ohio as Reid and Dillard each notched a team-best five 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 seven games with at least 20 assists and have recorded at least 15 helpers in all 17 games, proving that team work and sharing the ball equate to victories on the court.

COUGHING IT UP
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 17 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 10th in the NCAA forcing 23.1 turnovers/game while also forcing 25.2 turnovers/game at home this season. UB forced 20 Ohio turnovers last time out as they are now one of two teams in the NCAA to force 20+ turnovers in at least 15 games this season (Auburn). The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in nine straight games. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 393 total turnovers into 397 points (23.3/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 23-5 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

SENIOR CLASS
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 75 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 six more victories.

RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
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 17 games this season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 204-66 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB dominated the Bobcats in the open floor as they outscored them 13-4. The Bulls have held four opponents without a fast break bucket and they have won the fast break scoring category in 14 of 17 games overall this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 42 of their last 49 games over the past two seasons including in 33 of their last 36 wins. Buffalo owned the 270-111 edge in fast break scoring last year.

PAINT PRESENCE
Buffalo has begun to dominate down low of late, having tied or won the scoring inside the paint in 13 of their last 14 games overall. The Bulls have only been outscored in the paint in three times this season including last time out in the win over Ohio as the Bobcats outscored UB 36-28 inside the paint. They are 11-3 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint. On the year, UB is averaging 34.8 points in the paint and an average of 38.7 over their last 10 wins.

MAGIC NUMBER 59
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 (36.5%) and 2nd in scoring defense (63.7 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense has held four opponents this season to under 50 points. Over the last three seasons, UB is 55-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 23-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 10-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points scored.

DILLARD FIRST OF 3 UB PLAYERS TO GO OVER 1000 POINTS
With her 16th point on Saturday against Ball State, junior Cierra Dillard joined the 1,000 career point club as she notched 783 points at UMass through two seasons and has posted 241 points in the blue and white. Dillard is the first of three UB players that will reach the 1000 career point plateau this season as senior Stephanie Reid has notched 970 points and senior Cassie Oursler sits at 951 points. Dillard is 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.

SHOOTING FOR THE STARS   
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 shoot a higher percentage from the floor than Ohio on Wednesday and it resulted in another victory. Buffalo shot 44.9% from the floor while the Bobcats were held to just 33.3% shooting. When the Bulls shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent, they own a 46-2 record over the past three seasons and are a perfect 12-0 this season when doing so.

REID 'EM AND WEEP
Senior point guard Stephanie Reid has turned into one of the best floor generals in country 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 31.0 minutes, 9.7 points, 7.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 steals on the season while appearing in 13 games. Now that Reid qualifies to be in NCAA stats, she ranks 6th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.7) and 36th in the NCAA in assist/turnover margin (2.49). Buffalo owns a 11-2 record this season with their floor general in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid had a quiet game but she was still able to lead UB to victory as she netted five points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Reid has now recorded 12 double digit assist efforts in her career and four this season. 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 in a career as she sits just five assists shy of the program record (572). 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.

DILLY DILLY
Junior guard Cierra Dillard has turned into a fan favorite as her flashy passes and her pure talent have been on display all season long. The Rochester native is averaging 30.7 minutes, a team-high 14.2 points, 4.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 steals while making a team-best 39 three-pointers on the year. Last time out against Ohio, Dillard finished off her second straight 20-point effort with 20 points, seven 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 4.7 dimes/game while also ranking 20th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.0). 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 17 games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 14-3 start to the season. She has also earned MAC East Player of the Week on two occasions and UB Athlete of the Week three times this season.

OURSLER'S POST PRESENCE KEY TO UB SUCCESS
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 14 of 17 games this season. Last time out, Oursler came on strong in the second half to finish with 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks across 24 minutes of work while going 5-for-6 from the floor. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and a team-best 1.8 blocks while shooting 50.3% from the floor and 73.0% from the charity stripe. The senior currently sits in a tie for sixth place on the Bulls all-time field goal percentage charts with Tiffany Bell as she is shooting 48.7% from the floor over her career. Oursler also moved into 6th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 113 career rejections as a Bull as she has notched at least one block in nine straight games. 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.

HEMPHILL GAINING CONFIDENCE
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 she exploded for a career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Ohio, her second double-double of the season. Hemphill has now scored in double figures in a career-best eight games this season. The athletically gifted post player is averaging 23.6 minutes, 9.3 points, a team-best 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting a team-best 59.5% from the floor on the year. Hemphill ranks 2nd in the MAC and 17th in the NCAA in field goal percentage on the year.