Bulls Shoot For Fifth Straight Win As EMU Comes To Town On Saturday

Bulls Shoot For Fifth Straight Win As EMU Comes To Town On Saturday

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BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (15-3, 6-1 MAC) will look to add to their program record start on Saturday afternoon as they welcome cross division foe Eastern Michigan to Alumni Arena for a 2:00 pm tip. The Eagles enter with a 9-10 overall record and a 5-3 MAC mark on the year. Saturday's game will air live on ESPN3 as Paul Peck and Amy Audibert will be on the call.

STORYLINES

  • The Bulls will go for their fifth straight win on Saturday afternoon as they welcome the Eastern Michigan Eagles to Alumni Arena at 2:00 pm.
  • This game marks the 24th meeting all-time between the two programs with the Eagles owning the 15-8 edge in the series. Buffalo has won four of the last six games against EMU including a 56-52 win in Ypsilanti last year.
  • Buffalo received three votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll on Tuesday afternoon, marking the first time under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack that UB has received votes in the top 25 poll.
  • Buffalo and Auburn are the only two teams in the NCAA to forced 20+ turnovers in 16 of 18 games this season. The UB defense also ranks 4th in the NCAA averaging 13.7 steals/games.
  • Senior point Guard Stephanie Reid set the program record for assists in a career last time out as she now has 577 career dimes as a Bull in just 99 games.
  • Junior shooting guard Cierra Dillard wasn named MAC East Player of the Week for the second straight week and third time this season on Tuesday. Dillard is the lone three-time winner this season as she averaged 25.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals across two wins last week. She was also nominated for National Player of the Week honors by the NCAA.
  • After netting 87 points last time out against Toledo, the Buffalo offense has now produced seven games of 80+ points, their most in a season since joining the MAC and most overall since doing so nine times during the 1997-98 season.

BULLS LOOK TO STAY HOT AS THEY WELCOME EMU TO ALUMNI
After collecting their fourth straight MAC win on Saturday afternoon vs. Toledo, the UB women's basketball team will return home for their second straight game at Alumni Arena on Saturday as they welcome Eastern Michigan. The Bulls enter with a 15-3 overall record and a 6-1 MAC mark while the Eagles enter with a 9-10 overall record and a 5-3 MAC mark after winning three of their last four conference games, falling to Miami last time out. 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.

UB WINS FOURTH STRAIGHT TO STAY ATOP MAC EAST
Buffalo was able to extend their winning streak to four straight as the Bulls ran away from defending MAC champion Toledo Rockets on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,899 fans inside Alumni Arena, 87-69.  Cierra Dillard was the driving force behind the Bulls impressive win on Saturday afternoon as she was able to net a career-high 30 points, seven steals, five rebounds and four assists while going 9-for-14 from the floor and 9-for-11 from the charity stripe. Midway through the second quarter, senior Stephanie Reid cemented herself as the best point guard in program history as she was able to break the school record for assists in a career with her 572nd career dime. The Bulls were able to own a 43-33 edge in rebounding and a 14-5 edge in offensive rebounds while also outscoring the Rockets 19-9 in second chance points. The feisty Buffalo defense was also able to force 25 turnovers and they turned those into 22 points on the other end of the court. UB also won the fast break scoring category by the score of 16-0 as they got out in transition and never looked back.

REWRITING THE HISTORY BOOKS
With their win over Toledo on Saturday afternoon, the Bulls were able to set multiple program records as they improved to 15-3 overall and 6-1 in the MAC. The 15-3 start to the season is the best start in the programs division I history, 24 years, while the 6-1 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, Ohio and Toledo by an average of 12.6 points/game while outscoring all opponents this season by an average of 10.8 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 RECEIVING TOP 25 VOTES
After posting a strong home victory over Toledo, a team that is ranked 45th in the latest RPI poll, the UB women's basketball team was also able to garner some national attention as they earned three votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll released on Tuesday, marking the first time under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack that the Bulls earned any votes in the poll. The Bulls also currently rank #20 in the latest RPI poll, highest of any MAC team and the highest ranking ever received by a Buffalo team this late in the season. UB has posted eight wins over teams currently ranked inside the top-100 in the RPI rankings as they downed Ball State (#35), St. John's (#38), Toledo (#45), Nebraska (#61), Ohio (77), Western Michigan (#97), Delaware (#99) and UNLV (#100) 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 seventh best conference in the NCAA in regards to RPI.

REID BREAKS CAREER ASSIST RECORD
With her fifth assist of the game on Saturday in the win over Toledo, senior point guard Stephanie Reid became the Bulls All-Time leader in career assists with 572 assists. It took Reid just 99 games to break Catherine Jacob's school record that stood since 1999. The Australia native currently sits in 14th place on the MAC's all-time assists charts as she has posted the most career assists in the MAC since 2014 when Akron's Kacie Cassell finished off her career with 688 assists. Reid now has 13 career double digit assist games while also owning the school record for assists in a game as she notched 16 helpers last season against Ball State.

HOME SWEET HOME
The Bulls will return to Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon looking to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 against MAC foes on their home court. The Bulls are averaging 77.7 points/game while shooting 42.1% from the floor so far this season at home while limiting opponents to just 57.7 points/game. Alumni Arena has been nice to the Bulls over the past four seasons as UB owns a 45-17 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 70.1 points/game while limiting their opponents to just 56.2 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 13.7 steals/game which leads the MAC and ranks 4th in the NCAA. Last time out, Buffalo racked up 17 steals as Cierra Dillard recorded a career-best seven and Stephanie Reid notched four in the win over Toledo. The Bulls currently have six players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 3.2 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 12th in the NCAA. Senior Stephanie Reid ranks second on the team and 3rd in the MAC averaging 2.9 steals as she has produced 181 career thefts. In conference games, Reid leads the MAC averaging 3.4 thefts/game.

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 15-3 start. The UB offense has now produced seven games of 80+ points this season, marking the most 80+ point games in a season since joining the MAC in 1998-99. The seven 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 74.8 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 15-3 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 11th 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 7.6 helpers which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 5th in the NCAA while Dillard ranks second on the team averaging 4.7/game. Last time out, Buffalo notched 18 assists on 28 made field goals in the win over Toledo as Reid notched 10 assists and became UB's all-time leader in assists in a career. 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 18 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 23.2 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle twice through 18 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 9th in the NCAA forcing 23.2 turnovers/game while also forcing 25.2 turnovers/game at home this season. UB forced 25 Toledo turnovers last time out as they are now one of two teams in the NCAA to force 20+ turnovers in at least 16 games this season (Auburn). The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in 10 straight games. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 418 total turnovers into 419 points (23.2/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 24-5 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 76 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 five 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 18 games this season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 220-66 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, UB dominated the the Rocets in the fast break, outscoring them 16-0. The Bulls have now held five opponents without a fast break bucket and they have won the fast break scoring category in 15 of 18 games overall this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 43 of their last 50 games over the past two seasons including in 34 of their last 37 wins. Buffalo owned the 270-111 edge in fast break scoring last year.

70 AND UNDER
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 2nd in the MAC in field goal percentage defense (36.9%) and 2nd in scoring defense (64.0 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense has held four opponents this season to under 50 points. Over the last three seasons, UB is 56-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 23-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 11-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points scored.

DILLARD FIRST OF 3 UB PLAYERS TO GO OVER 1000 POINTS
With her 16th point 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 now posted 271 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 977 points and senior Cassie Oursler sits at 957 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 wasn't able to outshoot the Rockets on Saturday but still won the game as Toledo shot 45.6% and the Bulls shot 41.8% for the game. 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 31.5 minutes, 9.5 points, 7.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 steals on the season while appearing in 14 games. Now that Reid qualifies to be in NCAA stats, she ranks 5th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.6) and 27th in the NCAA in assist/turnover margin (2.61). Buffalo owns a 12-2 record this season with their floor general in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid helped UB to victory as she posted seven points, 10 assists and four steals while becoming UB's all-time leader in career assists with her fifth assist. Reid has now recorded 13 double digit assist efforts in her career and five this season. 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 30.9 minutes, a team-high 15.1 points, 4.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals while making a team-best 42 three-pointers on the year. Last time out against Toledo, Dillard had a career day as she went off for a career-best 30 points, seven steals, five rebounds and four assists. 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 16th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.2). 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 18 games while notching three games with 6+ steals. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 15-3 start to the season. She has been named MAC East Player of the Week two straight times and has won the weekly award three times this season. Dillard has also been named UB Athlete of the Week six 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 18 games this season. Last time out, Oursler netted six points, five rebounds and a block in just 14 minutes of work. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 12.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and a team-best 1.8 blocks while shooting 48.1% from the floor and 73.8% from the charity stripe. The senior currently sits in 8th place on the Bulls all-time field goal percentage charts as she is shooting 48.0% from the floor over her career. Oursler also moved into 6th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 114 career rejections as a Bull as she has notched at least one block in 10 straight games.

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 and she had a solid game against Toledo, netting eight points and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds. The athletically gifted post player is averaging 23.7 minutes, 9.2 points, a team-best 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting a team-best 58.1% from the floor on the year. Hemphill ranks 3rd in the MAC and 26th in the NCAA in field goal percentage on the year. In MAC games, Hemphill is averaging 11.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 2.1 steals while shooting 56.9% from the floor as UB is off to a 6-1 MAC start.