BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo women's basketball team (21-4, 12-2 MAC) clinched a top four seed and trip to the Mid-American Conference Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon as they ran past the Akron Zips, 85-71. With the win, UB will advance to the MAC Quarterfinal round in Cleveland as they set a new school record for MAC wins with 12 one the year.
With the win, Buffalo improves to a perfect 10-0 at Alumni Arena this season with two games remaining on their home court. The Bulls have never gone undefeated on their home court in the programs division I history. UB also scored 80+ points for the 12th time this season, two shy of tying the program record for 80+ point efforts in a season.
After both teams exchanged buckets to open the first quarter, Autumn Jones came off the UB bench and drilled a corner three to give the Bulls the early 7-5 lead. The Zips were able to regain the 10-9 lead as they knocked down a transition three pointer but the Bulls made sure that was the final lead Akron had. Buffalo went on a quick 9-0 spurt to take the 18-10 lead as Cierra Dillard earned a steal and assist on a Jones layup before Dillard drilled a three and Mariah Suchan finished off a layup. The Zips cut the lead to 20-16 after a fast break layup and Katherine Ups finished the scoring in the first with a free throw to give UB the 21-16 edge through 10 minutes.
The Zips were able to get back into the game early in the second quarter as they scored six straight to bring them within one, 23-22. Buffalo responded quickly with a 5-0 spurt as Suchan finished off a layup and free throw after a great feed from Dillard to take the 28-22 lead. After an Akron free throw, UB took control of the game as they used a 14-7 run to close out the half as Hemphill scored six points and Hanna Hall connected on a triple to send UB to the locker room with the 42-30 lead.
Back-to-back layups by the Zips midway through the third quarter cut the Buffalo lead down to 48-40 but Jones was able to drain back-to-back triples for the Bulls to extend their lead back to 12. A quick 9-0 UB run pushed the UB lead to 20, 63-43, their largest lead of the game as Hemphill made back-to-back layups and Dillard knocked down a triple. The Zips ended the quarter on a 5-0 run to send the game to the final frame with UB leading 63-48.
The Bulls wouldn't let the Zips get any closer than 11 in the final 10 minutes of the game as Reid and Oursler were able to impose their will on the visitors and put the game away. With the bench getting some action late in the fourth, freshman Marissa Hamilton was able to drill a three pointer and a baseline jumper to help UB secure the 85-71 home victory.
Buffalo saw five players score in double figures on Saturday as Hemphill led the way with 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks across 33 minutes while going 9-for-15 from the floor. Dillard finished off her near triple-double with 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals while Jones came off the bench and produced 13 points and three rebounds across 19 energetic minutes.
Oursler continued her strong play as she netted 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in just 21 minutes of work while Reid notched her fourth double-double of the season as she went for 10 points, 10 assists, four rebounds and three steals. Reid has now recorded 14 career double digit assist efforts during her time at Buffalo, a program record.
Katherine Ups chipped in with eight points, five rebounds and two assists while Suchan came off the bench and posted five points and seven rebounds, four offensive, in the win. Hamilton was able to record five points in three minutes while Hall came off the bench and finished with three points, two assists and a rebound in 11 minutes of action.
As a team, Buffalo was able to outshoot the Zips 45.1% to 38.5% as the Bulls are now 16-0 on the season when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent. UB also held the dominant 56-35 edge in rebounds as they grabbed 23 offensive boards and turned those into 18 second chance points. As usual, UB outscored their opponent in the fast break as they held the 20-4 edge in fast break scoring.
Buffalo's magic number to clinch their first ever MAC East division regular season championship is one as they will look to improve their seeding in the MAC Tournament over the final four games of the regular season.
The Bulls will return to the road on Wednesday night as they head to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons for their first of two meetings over the final two weeks of the regular season. Tip on Wednesday is set for 7:00 pm inside the Stroh Center.