Women's Basketball Looks To Get Back On Track On Saturday At Toledo

Women's Basketball Looks To Get Back On Track On Saturday At Toledo

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BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (16-4, 7-2 MAC) will look to bounce back from a tough road loss on Wednesday night as they head to Toledo to take on the Rockets on Saturday at 2:00 pm inside Savage Arena. Buffalo will be looking for their sixth win in their last seven games and the season sweep of the Rockets as they handed Toledo the 87-69 loss at Alumni Arena on January 20. Saturday's game will air live on ESPN3 or it can be listened to on ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will get you started with the UB Women's Basketball pregame show starting at 1:30 pm.

STORYLINES

  • The Bulls will go for their sixth win in their last seven games on Saturday afternoon as they head to Toledo to take on the Rockets at 2pm inside Savage Arena.
  • This marks the 27th meeting between the two programs all-time with the Rockets holding the dominant 21-5 edge over the Bulls.
  • Buffalo defeated Toledo 87-69 on January 20 inside Alumni Arena behind a career game from Cierra Dillard as she netted 30 points, seven steals, five rebounds and four assists in the win.
  • Buffalo received six 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 in back-to-back weeks and also the latest in a season they have ever received votes.
  • Buffalo and Auburn are the only two teams in the NCAA to forced 20+ turnovers in at least 18 games this season. The Bulls have forced at least 20 turnovers in 12 straight contests. UB ranks 6th in the NCAA forcing an average of 23.3 turnovers/game.
  • The UB defense ranks 4th in the NCAA averaging 13.9 steals/game. Cierra Dillard ranks 1st in the MAC (3.2) in steals/game while Stephanie Reid ranks 3rd (3.0).
  • Stephanie Reid currently ranks 7th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.5). She now holds the Bulls program record with 590 career dimes in 101 games played.
  • The potent Buffalo offense scored 97 points on Saturday, marking the most points in a game since January 13, 1996 when they scored 99 vs. Chicago State. UB has now scored 80+ points eight times this season, most since doing so nine times during the 1997-98 campaign.

UB LOOKS FOR SEASON SWEEP OF TOLEDO ON SATURDAY
After seeing their five game winning streak snapped on Wednesday night at Central Michigan, the UB women's basketball team will hit the road for another test against a MAC west foe in Toledo. The Bulls enter with a 16-4 overall record and a 7-2 MAC mark while the Rockets enter with a 15-7 overall record and a 6-4 MAC mark after downing Western Michigan on Wednesday. Tip is set for 2:00 pm on Saturday afternoon inside Savage Arena as the game will air live on ESPN3. 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 FIVE GAME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED AT CMU
The Bulls put up a tough fight but fell just short on Wednesday night on the road at MAC unbeaten Central Michigan as the Chippewas escaped with a 86-79 victory. The Bulls struggled in the third quarter as the home team outscored UB 24-15 and put the game out of reach. The Buffalo defense continued to force turnovers in the loss as they turned 21 turnovers into 21 points while also grabbing a season-best 22 offensive rebounds and turned those into 30 second chance points. UB was led offensively by Cierra Dillard who netted 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals while Stephanie Reid went for 20 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals in the loss. Sophomore Summer Hemphill continued her strong play as she finished off her third double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

REWRITING THE HISTORY BOOKS
The Bulls have put together a historic start to their 2017-18 campaign as they currently own a 16-4 overall record and a 7-2 MAC mark. The 16-4 start to the season is the best start in the programs division I history since starting 18-4 in 1996-97. The Bulls 7-2 MAC start marks their 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, Toledo and Eastern Michigan by an average of 11.6 points/game while outscoring all opponents this season by an average of 9.6 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). UB now sits just four wins shy of 20 on the season as they look for their third straight 20+ win campaign. If they are able to do so, it will mark just the second time in program history as they won 20+ games from 1994-97, their first three seasons as a Division I program.

BUFFALO RECEIVING TOP 25 VOTES FOR 2ND STRAIGHT WEEK
After posting a strong home victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday, the UB women's basketball team garnered some national attention for the second straight week as they earned six 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 votes in the poll in back-to-back weeks. This also marks the latest in the season UB has received votes in the Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Bulls also currently rank #24 in the lastest 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 nine wins over teams currently ranked inside the top-120 in the latest RPI rankings as they downed Ball State (#34), Nebraska (#56),  Toledo (#58), St. John's (#60), Ohio (81), Miami (OH) (#103), UNLV (#104), Western Michigan (#111) and Delaware (#119) by an average of 12.5 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.

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 13.9 steals/game which leads the MAC and ranks 4th in the NCAA. Last time out, Buffalo racked up 14 steals as Katherine Ups notched four, Summer Hemphill produced three while Stephanie Reid, Cierra Dillard and Cassie Oursler each recorded two in the loss at CMU. 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 1st in the MAC and 13th in the NCAA. Senior Stephanie Reid currently leads the MAC in steals/game in conference games as she is averaging 3.6 thefts and currently ranks 10th in UB history with 193 career steals.

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 16-4 start. Against EMU last Saturday, the UB offense netted 97 points and that marked the most points scored in a game since January 13, 1996 when UB posted 99 points in a win over Chicago State. The Bulls have now produced eight 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 2nd in MAC contests in scoring as they are averaging 81.1 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 record 16-4 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 12th in the NCAA in assists/game (18.6) as three Bulls are averaging at least 2.0 assists/game so far this season. Reid leads UB averaging 7.5 helpers which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 7th in the NCAA while Dillard ranks second on the team averaging 4.8/game which ranks 6th in the MAC. Last time out, Buffalo notched 14 assists on 28 made field goals in the loss at CMU as Dillard led the way with five and Reid finished with four. 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 eight games with at least 20 assists and have recorded at least 15 helpers in 18 of 20 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 23.3 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle twice through 20 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 6th in the NCAA forcing 23.3 turnovers/game while also forcing 25.3 turnovers/game at home this season. UB forced 21 CMU turnovers last time out as they are now one of two teams in the NCAA to force 20+ turnovers in at least 18 games this season (Auburn). The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in a program record 12 straight games. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 465 total turnovers into 457 points (22.9/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 25-6 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

REID NOTCHES 1,000th CAREER POINT ON SATURDAY
Senior point guard Stephanie Reid was able to make her 1,000th career point a dramatic one as she sank a game-clinching free throw in overtime to notch the milestone. Reid finished off Saturday's game with a season-high 23 points as she becomes the second UB player this season to record 1,000 career points. The senior also added to her program record for career assists as she notched nine helpers, giving her 586 for her impressive UB career.
It took Reid just 99 games to break Catherine Jacob's school record that stood since 1999 and she currently sits in 14th place on the MAC's all-time assists charts as she has posted the most career asssists 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.

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. These five seniors have combined to appear in 459 career games while combining to start 294 contests together. This impressive senior class has accumulated 77 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 four 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 20 games this season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 245-82 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, Buffalo and Central Michigan tied 10-10 in fast break scoring as the Chippewas handed UB the loss. The Bulls have now held five opponents without a fast break bucket and they have won the fast break scoring category in 16 of 20 games overall this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 45 of their last 51 games over the past two seasons including in 35 of their last 38 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 (37.5%). The stingy Buffalo defense has held four opponents this season to under 50 points while forcing an average of 23.3 turnovers/game. 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.

OURSLER SETS SIGHTS ON 1,000TH CAREER POINT
Senior center Cassie Oursler is setting her sights on becoming the third Bull this season to record her 1,000th career point on Saturday as she sits just 15 points shy of the milestone. Oursler has recorded 740 career points in a Buffalo uniform after spending her freshman season at Robert Morris. If Oursler is able to go over 1,000 career points on Saturday, the Bulls would have players record the milestone this season for the first time in program history. Senior point guard Stephanie Reid recorded her 1,000th career point on Saturday with a free throw that sealed the win over EMU in overtime and earlier this season, Cierra Dillard notched her 1,000th career point in a road win over Ball State. UB currently has 24 members of their 1,000 career point club after Reid joined the club on Saturday. 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 Chippewas on Saturday and it resulted in a loss as Central Michigan shot 40.0% from the floor and UB shot just 34.1%. 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.

PAINT PRESENCE
Buffalo has begun to dominate down low of late, having tied or won the scoring inside the paint in 16 of their last 17 games overall. The Bulls have only been outscored in the paint in three times this season. They are 13-3 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint. On the year, UB is averaging 35.0 points in the paint and an average of 40.1 over their last 13 wins.

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 32.3 minutes, 11.0 points, 7.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 steals on the season while appearing in 16 games. Now that Reid qualifies to be in NCAA stats, she ranks 7th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.5) and 30th in the NCAA in assist/turnover margin (2.55). Buffalo owns a 13-3 record this season with their floor general in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid netted 20 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals in the loss at CMU, marking the first time in her UB career she netted back-to-back 20+ point games. 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 1000+ points, 500+ assists and 300+ rebounds in their career. Reid has now recorded 3+ assists in each of her last 64 games played while also ranking 6th amongst active players in career assists with 590 career helpers.

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 31.4 minutes, a team-high 15.4 points, 4.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 steals while making a team-best 47 three-pointers on the year. Last time out against CMU, Dillard didn't have her best night shooting the ball but she was still able to record a team-best 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals across 36 minutes of work. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 4.8 dimes/game while also ranking 13th 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 20 games while notching three games with 6+ steals. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 16-4 start to the season. She has been named MAC East Player of the Week three times this year, most of any player. Dillard has also been named UB Athlete of the Week six times this season.

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 posted her third double-double of the season on Wednesday night against CMU. Hemphill was able to supply the Bulls with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three assists across 33 minutes of work in the loss while going 7-for-10 from the floor. The athletically gifted post player is averaging 24.5 minutes, 9.9 points, a team-best 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting a team-best 60.0% from the floor on the year. Hemphill ranks 2nd in the MAC and 14th in the NCAA in field goal percentage on the year. In MAC games, Hemphill is averaging 12.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.1 blocks while shooting 60.5% from the floor as UB is off to a 7-2 MAC start for the first time in program history.

OURSLER KEY TO BULLS 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 15 of 20 games this season. Last time out, Oursler was not as effective as she would have liked to be as she posted just three points, six rebounds and two steals in the loss at CMU. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and a team-best 1.9 blocks while shooting 46.2% from the floor and 77.4% from the charity stripe. The senior currently sits in 8th place on the Bulls all-time field goal percentage charts as she is shooting 47.3% from the floor over her career. Oursler also moved into 5th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 119 career rejections as a Bull as she has notched at least one block in 12 straight games. She has also posted a career-best four double-doubles and a career-best two 20+ scoring efforts so far this season.

UPS, UPS AND AWAY
Senior Katherine Ups has been looked upon as a glue player that makes everyone on the team better her whole career but this season she has turned into a vital scorer and facilitator for UB. The stabalizing force for the Bulls all season long had another steady game for UB on Wednesday night as she was able to scored nine points, four steals and three rebounds across 29 minutes of work. The senior is a key to UB's success and she is having a career year, averaging 8.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists across 25.1 minutes/game. Ups has scored in double figures a career-best eight times this season while starting 29 straight games for head coach Felisha Legette-Jack.

COACH JACK NOTCHES 100TH WIN AT BUFFALO
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 247 career victories while leading UB to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015-16.

UB GREAT JOANNA SMITH SIGNS PRO DEAL IN TURKEY
Former University at Buffalo women's basketball great JoAnna Smith has inked her second professional contract with the Canik Belediyespor Samsun club in Turkey. Smith is the second UB player to sign a professional contract since head coach Felisha Legette-Jack took over the program in 2012, joining former teammate Christa Baccas. Smith will be one of four American born players on the roster joining Tan White (Mississippi State '05), Avery Warley (Liberty '12) and Eshaya Murphy (USC '07). Murphy was also a second round pick of the Minnesota Lynx in the 2007 WNBA Draft. Smith wrapped up her Buffalo career with 1,395 career points, ranking sixth in program history. The sharpshooter closed out her UB career ranked third in program history in three pointers made (208) and seventh in field goals made (494). Smith played in 121 career games for UB, third most in program history. She began her professional career in Portugal earlier this season and led her team to an undefeated record before choosing to sign and play in the top professional league in Turkey, KBSL.