ATHENS, OH – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (11-2, 1-1 MAC) were handed their first MAC loss of the season on Wednesday night at Ohio as they fell by the score of 83-55. The lone bright spot for the Bulls was senior JoAnna Smith who netted a season-high 29 points while also joining the Bulls 1,000-point club, just the 23rd player in UB women's basketball history to do so.
The Bulls weren't able to contain the Bobcats three point shooting as Ohio went 14-for-26 from behind the arc (53.8%) in the win. Overall Ohio shot 54% from the floor while the Bulls were held to 32.1% shooting. Ohio also forced 18 Buffalo turnovers that they turned into 21 points off of turnovers which was a big determining factor in the outcome of the game.
The first quarter didn't open up as the Bulls would have liked as they had some early foul troubles that allowed the Bobcats to race out to a 7-0 lead before JoAnna Smith netted a pair of free throws. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they weren't able to score the rest of the quarter as Ohio took the 17-2 lead into the second quarter.
The Bobcats opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run before Cassie Oursler was able to take a Stephanie Reid feed and finish off a layup. Ohio responded with a three before Oursler made a jumper after a pass from Ayoleka Sodade. Ohio made the score 32-10 with another triple before UB closed out the quarter on an 8-5 run to make the score 37-18 at half. Reid made a pair of free throws before Summer Hemphill came up with a huge rejection that led to a Mariah Suchan hook shot. Smith finished off the second quarter with two layups including a transition layup that gave her 1,000 career points.
The Bulls showed some signs of life out of the half, thanks to the outstanding effort by Smith. The Bobcats opened up the quarter with five straight before Smith took over, netting back-to-back buckets before Hemphill made a nice layup to cut the Ohio lead to 42-24. After Ohio netted a pair of free throws, Smith got hot from behind the arc as she netted back-to-back three pointers with a hand in her face. Smith then cut the Ohio lead to 47-35 midway through the third quarter as she netted her third triple in just over a minute. The Bobcats then hit a pair of uncontested three's before Courtney Wilkins drilled a deep triple to bring UB within 13, 53-40. The Bobcats closed the quarter on a 7-4 run to take the commanding 60-44 edge into the final 10 minutes.
Smith opened up the fourth with another triple but the Bobcats scored the next seven points to extend their lead to 67-47. Smith drilled her fifth and final three pointer of the game midway through the fourth but the Bulls weren't able to inch any closer as they fell 83-55.
Smith was the best player on the court for the Bulls as she was able to go 9-for-21 from the floor and 5-for-12 from behind the arc en route to a season-best 29 points, two rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes of work. The five triples were a season-high for Smith who has connected on at least one three pointer in 47 of her last 49 games and at least three triples in 27 of her last 49 games for UB. The senior was able to move into 21st on the all-time scoring charts as she has 1,023 career points in the Buffalo jersey.
Hemphill continued her strong play off the bench for the Bulls as she finished with six points, a team-high eight rebounds, two blocks, one steal and one assist in the loss. Hemphill has now notched at least one block in 10 straight games while recording at least two swats in six games this season. Oursler finished with six points and three rebounds in just 12 minutes while Reid had a quiet game at point, finishing with four points, four assists and three rebounds in the defeat.
For the game, Ohio held the 26-16 edge in paint scoring while Buffalo was able to hold the 10-6 edge in second chance points as UB grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. The Bulls won the rebounding battle once again, 35-29, while Ohio's bench outscored the Bulls 29-13 for the game.
The Bulls will stay on the road for their next Mid-American Conference game as they play at the Central Michigan Chippewas on Saturday in a rematch of last season's MAC Championship game. Tip is set for 1:00 pm on Saturday at McGuirk Arena.