BOWLING GREEN, OH – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (22-4, 13-2 MAC) won their sixth straight game on Wednesday night to clinch their first Mid-American Conference East division regular season championship as they handed the Bowling Green Flacons the 88-67 defeat inside the Stroh Center. The win also secured the Bulls a top-two seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament.
The difference in the game on Wednesday night was the Bulls presence in the paint as they were able to outscore the Falcons 44-20. Buffalo has now outscored their opponents in 22 of their last 23 games inside the paint.
After the two teams exchanged a pair of buckets early on, Summer Hemphill took over for the Bulls over the next two minutes as she scored six straight points including back-to-back layups on inbound plays to give UB the 10-6 lead. After the Falcons made a layup, UB pushed their lead out to 17-8 as Cierra Dillard drilled a triple and Cassie Oursler scored four straight points. The Falcons again cut the UB lead to four, 19-15, on a triple but Dillard responded with her second three of the quarter and Hemphill sank a jumper inside the paint as UB closed out the first quarter with the 26-17 lead.
Buffalo raced out of the gates in the second quarter with an 11-0 run to take the 37-17 advantage as Autumn Jones drained a triple, Katherine Ups made a driving layup and Brittany Morrison took a great feed from Dillard and finished in traffic. The Falcons were able to cut into the UB lead with a triple with just over two minutes left in the half to make it 41-25 in favor of the Bulls but UB ended the quarter on a 4-2 run as Dillard faked out her defender with a fake pass and finished off the filet (layup) as UB entered the locker room with the 45-27 lead.
The third quarter was pretty even as the Bulls held the slim 24-20 edge in scoring in the quarter. After a Bowling Green free throw cut the UB lead to 47-31, Katherine Ups took over offensively as she netted three straight layups, the last of which was a result of a great pass from Hemphill. The Bulls led 55-34 with just over six minutes left but the Falcons were able to go on a quick 7-0 run to cut the UB lead to 55-41. Bowling Green wouldn't get any closer in the quarter as Hemphill finished off a fast break layup and Stephanie Reid finished off a layup and free throw to give the Bulls the 64-44 lead. Morrison and Mariah Suchan finished off the scoring in the quarter to give UB the 69-47 lead through 30 minutes.
The UB bench was able to get the majority of the run in the fourth quarter as the Bulls held the comfortable lead. Jones opened the quarter with three straight points before Theresa Onwuka made a nice move and finished off a layup to make the score 74-49 in favor of the Bulls. The Falcons were able to go on a 9-0 run to bring the game within 79-63 but Liisa Ups and Marissa Hamilton responded with triples to push the UB lead back to 20, 85-65. Courtney Wilkins finished off the scoring for UB as she drilled a baseline jumper to secure the Bulls 88-67 victory.
Oursler was the Bulls best player from start to finish on Wednesday as she was able to finish off her eighth double-double of the season and fourth in her last five games as she netted 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Oursler has now gone over the 20-point plateau a career-high four times this season as she finished the game 8-for-11 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
Katherine Ups had a solid game for the Bulls as she was able to finish with 11 points and seven rebounds across 20 minutes of work while Hemphill netted 12 points and four boards in the win. Dillard was a great facilitator on Wednesday as she finished with 10 points and a team-best seven assists while Reid chipped in with eight points and six assists.
Off the bench, Morrison had a big game for UB as she netted six points, eight boards and two blocks in just 11 minutes of action while Jones finished with six points in the win.
The Bulls were able to go over 80 points for the 13th time this season, just one game shy of a program record 14 game that was set in 1996-97.
As a team, the Bulls held the 49-32 edge in rebounding while also grabbing 15 offensive rebounds and turning those into 17 second chance points. Buffalo was able to shoot 51.6% from the floor while holding the Falcons to 33.3% shooting as UB is now 17-0 on the year when shooting a higher percentage than their opponent.
Buffalo will return home on Saturday afternoon as they welcome MAC east foe Ohio to Alumni Arena. Saturday's game will tip at 1:00 pm as it will be a part of a doubleheader with the UB men's team who will take on Ohio at 3:30 pm.