CLEVELAND, OH – Stephanie Reid banked in a runner in the lane to beat the buzzer and give the University at Buffalo women's basketball team its first ever Mid-American Conference championship on Saturday. The Bulls upset second seed Central Michigan, 73-71, in overtime, to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The eighth-seeded Bulls become the lowest seed in MAC history to win the Women's Basketball Championship.
"Coach Jack said to me three seconds is a long time, that's two dribbles and a shot," Reid said. "And I'm pretty sure I took exactly two dribbles and a shot. Just do what Coach says, you know. Got to stick to the game plan."
The Bulls jumped on the Chippewas early, taking a 21-11 lead and led by six after one quarter of play. Central Michigan battled back to take a five-point lead in the second quarter. However, a three-pointer by Courtney Wilkins just before the halftime buzzer gave the Bulls a 37-36 lead at the break.
It was a back-and-forth affair the rest of the way with neither team leading by more than five points. Just when it looked like Central Michigan was beginning to pull away, leading 60-55, with 6:52 left, Smith knocked down a three-pointer to cut the Chips lead to two. Smith followed with a steal and a layup and a jump shot to quickly give the Bulls a two-point advantage.
Mirte Scheper saved one of the best games of her career for the biggest stage as the freshman forward finished with seven points and six rebounds. Her rebound and putback put the Bulls ahead, 64-60, with 2:42 remaining.
Central Michigan held the Bulls scoreless the rest of the way and, after tying the game at 64, had a chance to win the game in regulation. But, as they did all game, the Bulls played solid defense and the Chips game-winning attempt came up short.
So many different players stepped up for the Bulls in this MAC Tournament and in overtime it was Katherine Ups' turn. The sophomore guard knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to give Buffalo a 70-67 lead with 2:44 left in overtime.
A Cassie Oursler free throw gave the Bulls a 71-69 lead with eight seconds left. CMU's Presley Hudson was fouled on the ensuing possession and calmly made both free throws to tie the game with 3.4 left on the clock. It set the stage for Reid's heroics.
Following a timeout, the ball was inbounded at midcourt to Reid. She dribbled around an Oursler screen and put up a one-handed runner that bank off the glass and through the net.
"No, I didn't call bank unfortunately, I should have," Reid said with a smile. "I wasn't really thinking about it at the moment."
Nine different Bulls scored in the game. UB got excellent play out of its post players. Besides the aforementioned Scheper, Oursler had seven points and eight rebounds, Mariah Suchan had six points and nine rebounds and Brittany Morrison finished with five points and five rebounds. Defensively, they did an excellent job guarding CMU's Tinara Moore, one of the best forwards in the MAC, limiting her to just four points after halftime.
"You've got to give these young people a chance," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "My mom said to me one day, sometimes you've got to push them and let them fly, sometimes you've got to allow them to become, and they can become people with wings. I trust my players, I trust all of them. This is a different way to coach. A lot of people believe in five or six kids. I believe in every kid I bring in here."