BUFFALO, NY – Behind a monster game by center Cassie Oursler, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (16-3, 7-1 MAC) was able to win their fifth straight game on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,630 fans at Alumni Arena as they downed the Eastern Michigan Eagles in overtime, 97-92. The 97 points scored by the Bulls are the most in a game since Jan. 13, 1996 when the Bulls scored 99 in a win over Chicago State. The 97 points are also the most scored in a MAC game for the Bulls in program history.
After the Eagles scored the final seven points of regulation to send the game to overtime, UB was able to refocus and take care of business in the final five minutes. Katherine Ups opened the overtime with a quick layup and Stephanie Reid finished off a layup and free throw to give UB the 85-82 edge a minute into overtime. After a Danielle Minott triple and a jumper by Tiffany Suarez gave the Eagles the 89-88 lead, the Bulls responded as Cassie Oursler drilled a jumper and Katherine Ups finished off a contested layup to give UB the 92-89 lead with 46 seconds remaining. After a missed jumper, UB iced the game with four free throws as Oursler and Dillard each drained a pair. With 11 seconds remaining and the 96-92 lead, Stephanie Reid drained a free throw for her 1,000th career point to give UB their fifth straight victory.
The Bulls were able to race out to the 9-5 lead on the shoulders of three layups from Cassie Oursler and four assists from Cierra Dillard, forcing an Eastern Michigan timeout. The Eagles raced back and tied the game, 11-11, with 4:22 left in the opening quarter before Dillard drilled her first triple of the game and gave UB the 14-13 lead. Autumn Jones was able to come off the bench and hit a three pointer to give Buffalo the 20-17 lead with just over a minute to play but the Eagles cut the lead to one, 20-19, at the end of the first quarter.
The two teams went back-and-forth in the second quarter with the Bulls jumping out to a four-point lead, 29-25, midway through the quarter on a Summer Hemphill jumper. The Eagles wouldn't let the Bulls get too far ahead as Minott drilled a triple and earned a steal and layup to give the visitors the 30-29 lead with four minutes to play in the half. Jones' second three of the first half gave UB the 36-32 edge but the Eagles knocked down a jumper to send the game to halftime with UB clinging to the 36-34 lead.
Buffalo came out quick in the third quarter as they used a 6-0 run to take the 44-36 lead as Dillard, Oursler and Katherine Ups each connected on a shot during the run. The Eagles cut the lead to five before a three pointer by Dillard gave UB the 10 point lead, 51-41, with 4:43 remaining in the quarter. The Eagles came right back and cut the lead to three, 55-52, but Oursler finished the scoring with a corner jumper after a pretty feed from Reid to give the Bulls the 60-54 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
The first five minutes of the final frame were closely contested as neither team was able to extend the lead out past six. Dillard was able to give the Bulls the seven point lead, 73-66, with 3:47 left in the fourth but the Eagles didn't go away quietly as a Minott jumper capped a 5-0 spurt to make the score 73-71 in favor of the home team. Reid responded with a huge triple to give UB the five point edge before Mariah Suchan calmly drained a pair of free throws to give the Bulls the 80-73 lead with 1:13 left. The Eagles scored four straight points and Minott buried a tightly contested triple from the corner to tie the game, 80-80, with 39 seconds remaining. Both teams had a chance to end the game but were unsuccessful as the game went to overtime where UB eventually hung on for their fifth straight win.
With her final free throw of the game in overtime, senior point guard Stephanie Reid became the 24th member of the Bulls 1000 point club as she finished off her impressive afternoon with 23 points, nine rebounds and six steals across 44 minutes of work. The 23 points for Reid are a season-high while the six steals ties her season high as she now sits in 11th place on the Bulls all-time steals charts with 191 career thefts.
Oursler turned in another dominant performance down low for the Bulls on Saturday as she netted 25 points, a career-best 13 rebounds and four blocks across 42 minutes of work. The senior went 8-for-16 from the floor and 9-for-9 from the charity stripe in the win. She also moved into fifth place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she now has 118 rejections in her Buffalo career.
Hemphill continued her great play during conference action as she finished off her day with 16 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three blocks while going an efficient 6-for-8 from the floor. Dillard didn't have her best offensive game but she was still able to net 15 points, seven assists, four steals and four rebounds while connecting on seven free throws. Katherine Ups chipped in with nine points, five rebounds and three assists while Autumn Jones came off the bench and scored six points, three rebounds and a steal.
As a team, the Bulls were able to force 26 Eastern Michigan turnovers as Buffalo has now forced 20+ turnovers in 17 of their 19 games this season. UB was able to turn those mishaps into 17 points while three UB players were able to notch four or more steals in the win. The Bulls also won the fast break category by the score of 15-6.
Eastern Michigan held the 50-43 edge in rebounding while also outshooting UB 43.4% to 42.3% for the game. UB was able to go 30-for-44 from the charity stripe while the Eagles went 17-for-25 on freebies.
The Eastern Michigan offense was powered by Danielle Minott who finished off her career afternoon with 44 points and five rebounds. The 44-point effort was a program record for the Eagles.
The Bulls will return to the court on Wednesday night as they travel to the MAC west leaders Central Michigan for a cross divisional showdown. The Bulls and Chippewas will tip at 7:00 pm on Wednesday night in Mount Pleasant.