BRONX, NY – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (10-0, 0-0 MAC) gutted out their 10th straight win to open the season on Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Fordham Holiday Classic. The Bulls used some clutch free throws down the stretch to earn the 58-54 win over the Fordham Rams. With the win, the Bulls set the program record for the best start to a season, 10-0, while also notching the first win over the Rams in program history.
The Buffalo offense was led once again by their floor general Stephanie Reid who netted a season-high 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals in 40 minutes of work. Reid was all over the floor defensively, notching a season-best four steals while shooting 7-for-16 from the floor and 7-for-10 from the charity stripe. Katherine Ups had a strong game as she finished with 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals in a season-high 35 minutes. Off the bench, Summer Hemphill had another great game as she finished with seven points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks as she has now notched at least one block in seven straight and two blocks in five of her last seven games.
Entering the fourth quarter with the five-point lead, it looked as though the Bulls would pull away as they extended their lead out to as many as seven in the final frame after Brittany Morrison found Hemphill for the and one layup, making the score 48-41. The Rams wouldn't let the Bulls pull away though as they went on a 6-2 run to bring the game within 50-47 but Katherine Ups responded with her biggest three of the night from deep to make it 53-47. The Rams cut the lead to four points but G'mrice Davis missed a pair of free throws that would have brought them within two.
With the Bulls leading 56-54, Hemphill provided the play of the game with 1.1 seconds showing on the game clock as she stepped in an took a charge as the Fordham player drove in looking for the tying bucket. Reid was then fouled and converted a pair of free throws to cap the win for UB.
After the Rams opened the scoring, UB responded with a quick 5-0 spurt as JoAnna Smith drained her first three pointer of the game and Cassie Oursler grabbed an offensive rebound and finished off the layup. Fordham responded with a quick 9-0 run of their own to take the 11-5 lead before Smith hit a pair of free throws. The two sides exchanged buckets down the stretch as they closed out the first quarter with the Rams holding the 14-9 edge.
The Buffalo defense came out strong in the second quarter as they forced four turnovers and helped lead UB to a 10-0 run and give UB the 19-14 lead. Summer Hemphill started the scoring on the fast break as she finished off a layup after a perfect Stephanie Reid pass. Reid then took over offensively as she scored six straight points before Cassie Oursler finished the run with a fast break layup. Fordham then connected on a pair of three pointers before Oursler and Smith scored a bucket each to make the score 25-20 in favor of UB. The Rams then hit a three pointer before Reid finished the half with a buzzer beating jumper to send UB to the locker room with the 27-23 lead.
The two sides exchanged buckets to open the third quarter as Oursler and Katherine Ups netted jumpers for the Bulls. After a Fordham free throw made the score 31-28 in favor of UB, the Bulls had back-to-back layups to force a Fordham timeout. Smith threaded a perfect pass on the fast break to a streaking Reid who finished off the bucket and then Oursler made a great feed down low to Oursler who finished off the layup, giving UB the 35-28 lead. Courtney Wilkins answered a Fordham three with a triple of her own before the Rams finished the scoring with a layup to send the game to the fourth with UB leading 38-33.
Oursler finished off her game with eight points, six rebounds and two blocks while going 4-for-6 from the floor across 23 minutes. Smith didn't have the best offensive game as she was held under 10 for only the second time this season, seven points, but she was great on the defensive end as she notched three steals across 29 minutes.
For the game, Buffalo shot 39.6% while the Rams only shot 35.8% as UB improved to 8-0 this season and 25-1 over the past two seasons when shooting a higher percentage than their opponents. The Bulls once again won the rebounding battle as they held the 37-32 edge including 11 offensive rebounds that they turned into 11 second chance points. The athletic Bulls continued to run out and score on the fast break as they held the 10-2 edge and have now outscored opponents 93-20 in fast break points this season.
Buffalo will return to the Rose Hill Gymnasium tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 pm as they will take on the winner of the Harvard vs. UNC Asheville game in the Championship game of the Fordham Holiday Classic. Tune into ESPN 1520 as Matt Mattia will be breaking down the action.