Bulls Look To Clinch MAC East Division Title On Wednesday at Bowling Green

Bulls Look To Clinch MAC East Division Title On Wednesday at Bowling Green

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BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (21-4, 12-2 MAC) will be in search of their first ever MAC East Division regular season championship on Wednesday afternoon as the Bulls head to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons at 7:00 pm. With a win, Buffalo will also secure a top three seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament.

Wednesday night's game will air live on ESPN3 or it can be listened to on ESPN1520 AM as Matt Mattia will get you started with the UB Women's Basketball Pre-game Show starting at 6:30 pm from inside the Stroh Center in Bowling Green.

STORYLINES

  • The Bulls will be looking for their sixth straight win while also clinching their first ever MAC East Division regular season championship on Wednesday night as they travel to Bowling Green for their first of two meetings over the next 10 days.
  • This marks the 38th meeting of all-time between the two programs with the Falcons owning a dominant 26-11 record against UB. The Bulls have owned the series of late, winning seven of the last eight meetings with the Falcons including victories in all three games last season.
  • Buffalo has now recorded three straight seasons with at least 20 victories for just the second time in the programs Division I history as UB did so from 1994-97, UB's first three seasons as a Division I program.
  • Buffalo currently sits at #14 in the latest RPI poll, marking the highest ranking the Bulls have ever received this late in the season. UB is the highest ranked mid-major program in the country.
  • Buffalo and Oregon are the only two teams in the country to have one player averaging at least 7.0 assists (Stephanie Reid 7.3 APG) and another player averaging at least 4.0 assists (Cierra Dillard 5.2 APG).
  • UB has now notched at least 10 MAC victories in four of the last five seasons under Coach Jack. Prior to Coach Jack taking over, the Bulls only produced one season with 10 MAC wins, 2000-01.
  • Senior point guard Stephanie Reid is one of just four active players in the NCAA to accumulate at least 1,000 points, 600 assists and 300 rebounds over their career (Jackie Kemph - St. Louis, Jordin Canada - UCLA and Emily Clemens - Western Illinois).

MAC EAST DIVISION TITLE UP FOR GRABS AT BG
After earning their 10th win in their last 11 games on Saturday at home against the Akron Zips, the Bulls will return to the road on Wednesday night with their sights set on clinching a MAC East Division regular season championship as they head to Bowling Green. With a win, the Bulls would secure their first MAC East Division championship in program history. Buffalo currently owns a 21-4 overall record to go along with a program record 12-2 MAC mark. The Falcons enter Wednesday's showdown with a 10-15 overall record and a 2-12 MAC mark as they have dropped eight straight conference games including last time out at Ohio by the score of 69-58. Wednesday's game will air live on ESPN3 at 7:00 pm and you can also listen in on the radio on ESPN1520 with Matt Mattia on the call starting at 6:30 pm with the UB women's basketball pregame show.

BUFFALO LOCKS UP TOP-4 SEED WITH WIN OVER AKRON
After notching their biggest win of the season against Central Michigan on Wednesday, the Bulls return home on Saturday and didn't slip up against the Akron Zips, handing the visitors the 85-71 loss. With the win, Buffalo secured just their fourth bye into the MAC Quarterfinals as they can't finish any lower than the #4 seed for the MAC Tournament in Cleveland in just over two weeks. The Bulls saw five players score in double figures in the win over Akron on Saturday as Summer Hemphill led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds in the win. Junior Cierra Dillard had a great all-around game for the Bulls as she posted a near triple-double with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while Stephanie Reid posted her ninth career double-double as she finished with 10 points and 10 assists. Buffalo held the dominant 56-35 edge in rebounding while also winning the fast break scoring category, 20-4.

SEEDING POSSIBILITIES
After the win against the Akron Zips on Saturday afternoon, the Bulls locked up a top-4 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament for just the fourth time in program history. The top-4 seed will give UB the bye to the quarterfinal round at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on March, 7. The Bulls will be no lower than the #3 seed in the tournament, marking the first time in program history the Bulls have earned higher than a #4 seed in the conference tournament. UB controls their own destiny for the #2 seed in the tournament and will need some help to earn the top spot currently held by the Central Michigan Chippewas.

THREE STRAIGHT 20+ WIN SEASONS
With their win over Central Michigan on Wednesday, the Bulls secured their third straight season with 20+ wins for just the second time in program history as they also did so from 1994-97, their first three seasons in division I. Buffalo has also now posted five straight 17+ win seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack, marking the first time this has happened in program history. Prior to Legette-Jack taking over the UB program, Buffalo saw just seven seasons with 17+ victories with their last one coming in 2002-03 season when they won 18 games. The Bulls and Ball State are the only MAC teams who currently have recorded five straight seasons with 17+ wins. The Bulls are currently the only MAC team to win 19+ games in four straight seasons, including this season. Ohio has done so in three straight but currently own a 14-10 overall record.

MOST #MACTION WINS IN PROGRAM HISTORY
With their 12th MAC victory of the season over Akron on Saturday, the Bulls set their program record for most MAC wins in a season. Prior to Saturday, the most MAC wins the Bulls ever produced was 11 which they recorded in 2014-15. UB has now notched four seasons with at least 10 MAC victories under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. Prior to Coach Jack taking over the Bulls, Buffalo saw just one season with 10 MAC victories, 2000-01. UB is a perfect 6-0 against MAC East foes this season while beating them by an average of 16.5 points/game. Overall in MAC games this season, Buffalo ranks 2nd in points/game (80.6 PPG).

REWRITING THE HISTORY BOOK
The Bulls have put together a historic start to their 2017-18 campaign as they currently own a 21-4 overall record and a 12-2 MAC mark. The 21-4 start to the season is the best start in the programs division I history. The Bulls 12-2 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 twice, Miami (OH) twice, Ball State, Ohio, Toledo twice, Eastern Michigan, Kent State and Central Michigan by an average of 13.7 points/game while outscoring all opponents this season by an average of 10.9 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).

THE CLIMB IS REAL
After collecting a pair of wins last week, the UB women's basketball team checks in at #14 in the latest RPI poll released by the NCAA on Tuesday. This marks the highest ranking ever by UB this late in the season and is also the highest ranking of any mid-major program. UB also garnered some national attention as they received a program-record seven votes in the latest USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, marking a program record fifth straight week UB has earned a vote. UB has posted 11 wins over teams currently ranked inside the top-115 in the latest RPI rankings as they downed Central Michigan (#27), Ball State (#40), St. John's (#54), Toledo (twice) (#58), Nebraska (#62), Ohio (#86), Miami (OH) (twice) (#88), UNLV (#92) and Western Michigan (#111). The Bulls average margin of victory over the 10 teams they defeated in the top-100 of the RPI poll is 10.1 points/game.

BULLS RANK 9TH 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 12.3 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 9th in the NCAA. Last time out, Buffalo produced seven steals in the win over Akron as Stephanie Reid and Cierra Dillard each notched three. The Bulls currently have six players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 2.9 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 20th in the NCAA. Senior Stephanie Reid currently ranks 2nd in the MAC in steals/game in conference games as she is averaging 2.9 thefts and currently ranks 10th in UB history with 201 career steals.

RUN EM' OFF THE LINE
A focus of this Buffalo team has been defending the three-point shot and the Bulls have taken that to heart through 25 games this season. The Bulls rank 1st in the MAC and 10th in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 27.1% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 5.4 made three-pointers made/game on 19.8 attempts/game. The Bulls have held 11 opponents to less that five three pointers made in a game this season including three of their last five. UB has held its last four opponents to 15-for-84 from behind the arc (17.9%). UB also leads the conference in three point defense across 14 conference games as they are holding their opponents to just 26.6% shooting from deep. Earlier this season, Buffalo held Clemson to no three pointers, marking the first time that has happened since November 14, 2015 when they held LIU Brooklyn to 0-for-14 from deep.

PAINTING A NEW PICTURE
The Bulls are beginning to dominate the paint as of late and that is making head coach Felisha Legette-Jack very happy as UB has won or tied the scoring in the paint category in 21 of their last 22 games overall. Last time out, the Bulls earned the 48-26 edge in scoring inside as Summer Hemphill scored all 18 of her team-high points inside. In the Bulls road win at Toledo earlier this year, UB was able to set a new program record as they scored 66 points in the paint, scoring 33 of their 36 field goals inside the painted area. The Bulls are now 18-3 this season when winning the battle inside as they are averaging 37.4 points/game in the paint while holding their opponents to an average of 25.8 points/game down low.

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 21-4 start. The Bulls have now produced 12 games, six of their last eight, of 80+ points this season, marking the most 80+ point games in a season since joining the MAC in 1998-99. The 12 games with 80+ points are the most in a season overall by the Bulls since doing it 14 times during the 1996-97 season when UB was in the Mid-Continent Conference (Now called the Summit League). Earlier this season against EMU, the UB offense netted 97 points which are the most in a game since January 13, 1996 when UB posted 99 points in a win over Chicago State. The UB offense ranks 2nd in MAC contests in scoring as they are averaging 80.6 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 21-4 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 11th in the NCAA in assists/game (18.5) as three Bulls are averaging at least 2.0 assists/game so far this season. Reid leads UB averaging 7.3 helpers which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 7th in the NCAA while Dillard ranks second on the team averaging 5.2 assists/game which ranks 6th in the MAC. UB and Oregon are the only two teams in the nation to have a player averaging at least 7.0 apg and another averaging at least 4.0 apg this season. Last time out, Buffalo dished out 25 assists on 37 made field goals in the win over Akron. So far this season, the Bulls have notched 10 games with at least 20 assists and have recorded at least 15 helpers in 21 of 25 games overall, proving that team work and sharing the ball equate to victories on the court. 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

COUGHING IT UP
The pesky Buffalo defense has been able to force an average of 21.1 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle five times through 25 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 21st in the NCAA forcing 21.1 turnovers/game while also forcing 21.8 turnovers/game at home this season. The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in 12 of their last 17 games. Last time out, the Bulls forced 13 Akron turnovers in the win. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 528 total turnovers into 508 points (20.3/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 27-6 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

CLEANING THE GLASS
One of the keys to the Bulls success this season has been their ability to rebound the basketball. The Bulls currently rank 1st in the MAC in rebounding (43.2/game) while holding their oppoents to 40.2 rebounds/game. Buffalo is 15-0 this season when winning the rebounding battle and just 4-3 when they are outrebounded by their opponents. In conference games, UB leads the MAC as they are grabbing an average 45.1 rebounds/game. Buffalo and Central Michigan are the only two teams in the conference with a pair of players ranking inside the top-10 in rebounding in MAC games as Cassie Oursler is averaging 8.9/game and Summer Hemphill is grabbing 8.2/game.

CREATING SECOND CHANCES
Buffalo has improved all season long on the offensive glass and they are proving to be one of the best in the country of late. The Bulls currently rank 2nd in the MAC in offensive rebounds/game as they are averaging 15.2/game on the season. Last time out, UB grabbed a season-high 23 offensive rebounds in the win over Akron. In MAC games, UB has turned up the attack on the offensive glass as they are leading the conference, averaging 16.0/game. Buffalo has grabbed at least 10 offensive rebounds in 23 of their 25 games this season and have snagged at least 20 on five occassions. Bulls take advantage of their offensive rebounds as they are averaging 14.0 second chance points per game on the year.

REID MOVING UP MAC ALL-TIME ASSISTS LIST
Senior point guard Stephanie Reid continues to rack up assists at a high clip as she currently ranks 2nd in the conference and 7th in the NCAA averaging 7.3 helpers/game. The Senior recently became the Bulls all-time leader in assists and is the first UB player and 13th player in MAC history to go over the 600 assist plateau, as she currently has 624 career helpers. With at least five more games left in her UB career, Reid is sure to climb the all-time MAC charts for assists in a career.

ALL-TIME MAC ASSISTS LEADERS
1. Marti Heckman (Ohio) - 810
2. Michelle Burden (KSU) - 798
3. Naama Shafir (UT) - 722
4. Tracy Wells (WMU) - 699
5. Kacie Cassell (Akron) - 688
6. Kate Achter (BG) - 688
7. Dana Drew (UT) - 659
8. Carmen Grande (BSU) - 642
9. Kelly Savage (UT) - 640
10. Heather Smith (UT) - 634
11. Shala Crook (BSU) - 628
12. Maria Jilian (WMU) - 625
13. Stephanie Reid (UB) - 624

Italic = Current Player

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 481 career games while combining to start 309 contests together. This impressive senior class has accumulated 82 victories together and they are now the winningest senior class since the Bulls joined the MAC in 1998-99. This senior class is the first in the Bulls division I history to record three straight 20-win seasons. These seniors have had great success inside Alumni Arena over their great careers as they own a 40-13 (.755) record in front of the home fans.Combined, these five seniors have played in 9,561 career minutes in the blue and white.

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 25 games this season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 275-96 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, Buffalo completely dominated the Zips in the open court as they held the 20-4 edge in fast break scoring. The Bulls have now held six opponents without a fast break bucket and 12 opponents to two points or less in the fast break on the season. Buffalo has won the fast break scoring category in 21 of 25 games overall this season and are 19-2 when winning this category. UB has scored in double figures in the fast break category 13 times. Over the past two seasons, UB has won or tied the fast break category in 50 of their 56 games including in 40 of their 43 victories.

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 win this category on Saturday as they shot 45.1% while the Zips were held to just 38.5% from the floor as UB earned their 21st win of the season. When the Bulls shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent, they own a 49-2 record over the past three seasons and are a perfect 16-0 this season when doing so.

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 three straight 20+ win seasons. Legette-Jack's goal for the team is to keep their opponent under 60 points as UB is 25-0 when doing so across the past two seasons. Buffalo held two of their last four opponents under 50 points as they have now held six opponents under 50 points this season. 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 (37.3%) and 3rd in scoring defense (65.9 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense has forced an average of 21.2 turnovers/game. Over the last three seasons, UB is 58-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 25-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 13-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points scored.

LOPSIDED VICTORIES
The Bulls have posted 13 victories this season by double digits including a 14-point victory last time out against Akron. The Bulls earned their most lopsided victory since December 13, 2009 just over a week ago as they defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes by 38, 80-42. The Bulls also have won seven wins this season by at least 20 points as they are outscoring opponents by an average of 10.9 points/game overall this season. Buffalo has also scored at least 80 points in 10 of their 21 wins this season, more than the last three years combined. In the Bulls 12 MAC victories, they are outscoring their opponents by an average of 13.5 points/game.

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 32.0 minutes, 11.6 points, 7.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals on the season while appearing in 21 games. Now that Reid qualifies to be in NCAA stats, she ranks 7th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.3) and 16th in assist/turnover margin (2.8). Buffalo owns a 18-3 record this season with their floor general in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid was able to notch her ninth double-double of her career as she posted 10 points and 10 assists in the win over Akron. The senior keeps adding to her program record for career assists as she currently sits at 624 helpers, ranking 6th amongst active players for career assists as she became the 13th player in MAC history to record her 600th assist. She has recorded a program record 14 double digit assist efforts in her career and six this season while becoming the first player in UB history and just one of four current players in the NCAA to notch over 1,000 points, 600 assists and 300 rebounds in her career.

OURSLER KEY TO BUFFALO 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 20 of 25 games this season. Last time out, Oursler had a quiet game as she netted 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks across just 21 minutes of work in the win over Akron. She has now recorded three double-doubles in her last four games for the Bulls. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and a team-best 1.9 blocks while shooting 48.7% from the floor and 79.7% from the charity stripe. The senior currently sits in 7th place on the Bulls all-time field goal percentage charts as she is shooting 48.2% from the floor over her career. Oursler also moved into 5th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 132 career rejections as a Bull as she has notched at least one block in 17 straight games. She has also posted a career-best seven double-doubles and a career-best three 20+ scoring efforts so far this season.

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 31.2 minutes, a team-high 15.0 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 steals while making a team-best 55 three-pointers on the year. Last time out against Akron, Dillard nearly recorded a triple-double as she finished the game with 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 5.2 dimes/game while also ranking 20th in the NCAA in steals/game (2.9). 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 24 of 25 games this season while notching three games with 6+ steals. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 21-4 start to the season. Dillard has led UB in scoring a team-best 13 times while also going over the 20-point plateau a team-high seven times this season. When Dillard scores 20+ points, UB is 7-0 this 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'S CONFIDENCE AT ALL-TIME HIGH
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 has scored in double figures in seven straight games. Hemphill was the Bulls best player on Saturday in the win over Akron as she netted a game-high 18 points and nine rebounds while going 9-for-15 from the floor. The athletically gifted post player is averaging a career-high 25.9 minutes, 10.8 points, a team-best 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks while shooting a team-best 60.8% from the floor on the year. Hemphill ranks 2nd in the MAC and 12th in the NCAA in field goal percentage on the year. In MAC games, Hemphill has been a beast as she is averaging 13.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.9 blocks while shooting 61.5% from the floor as UB is off to a program-best 12-2 start in conference games.

JONES LEADING BENCH EFFORTS
Junior college transfer Autumn Jones has proved to be instant offense off the Buffalo bench at points this season and she was a key to the Bulls win over Akron on Saturday. The junior exploded for 13 points off the bench in 19 minutes on Saturday as she went 5-for-11 from the floor and 3-for-7 from behind the arc. Jones also chipped in with three rebounds in the win. The UB bench was productive in the win over Akron as they netted 26 points as Mariah Suchan and Marissa Hamilton each netted five points. On the year, Jones is leading the UB bench averaging 15.8 minutes, 6.0 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals while scoring in double figures six times and ranking 2nd on the Bulls with 26 made three pointers.

COACH JACK NOTCHES 250TH CAREER VICTORY
With the dominant 64-49 victory over Miami on February 10, UB head coach Felisha Legette-Jack recorded her 250th career coaching victory. Coach Jack has notched 111 career victories as the head coach at Buffalo. She became the second fastest head coach to 100 wins at Buffalo as it took her 172 games while it took Sal Buscaglia notched his 100th victory at Buffalo in 171 games. In her sixth season at 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 three straight 20+ win seasons and Buffalo has won 19+ games in four straight seasons, the only team in the MAC to do so.

OURSLER BECOMES BULLS 3RD 1000-POINT SCORER
Senior center Cassie Oursler became the Bulls third 1,000 point scorer this season as she netted 15 points against Toledo to give her exactly 1,000 career points. The Grand Island native has posted 822 career points for the blue and white after spending her freshman campaign at Robert Morris. Oursler joins Stephanie Reid and Cierra Dillard as the only trio in UB history to record their 1,000th career point in the same season, all coming within three weeks of one another. Reid recorded her 1,000th career point with a free throw that sealed the win over EMU in overtime earlier this season while 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 earlier this 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.