BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (11-3, 1-2 MAC) returns home on Wednesday night as they welcome MAC foe Toledo to Alumni Arena for a 7:00 pm game. The Bulls will be looking to snap their current two-game losing streak while also improving to 9-0 at home this season as they welcome the 11-3 Rockets to Buffalo.
Wednesday night's game will air live on Time Warner Cable Sports as well as online at ESPN3.com (subject to blackout). You can listen in live on the radio on ESPN1520 AM as Matt Mattia will be on the call, starting at 6:30 pm with the pregame show.
BULLS AIM TO SNAP TWO-GAME LOSING STREAK
After suffering their second straight Mid-American Conference loss on Saturday on the road at Central Michigan, the UB women's basketball team looks to get back on track as they welcome the Toledo Rockets to Alumni Arena. The Bulls are aiming to improve to 9-0 at home this season while also leveling their MAC mark to 2-2. The Rockets enter with the same overall record as UB, 11-3, but Toledo owns a 2-1 MAC mark. The Rockets have won back-to-back MAC games against the Miami (OH) RedHawks and Eastern Michigan by an average of 15.5 PPG.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN POWERS PAST UB
The Bulls were handed their second straight MAC road loss on Saturday afternoon in a MAC Championship rematch against the Central Michigan Chippewas. The Bulls were downed 88-71 as the Chippewas were able to go 37-for-40 from the charity stripe in the game, proving to be the difference in the MAC showdown. The Chippewas outshot the Bulls 44.6% to 38.0% from the floor while also outscoring UB in the second chance points category 19-12. The Bulls were led by freshman Theresa Onwuka who netted her first career double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists across a career-high 29 minutes. Stephanie Reid finished off her game with 11 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals while JoAnna Smith netted 11 points and Cassie Oursler finished with 11. Freshman Summer Hemphill produced her second career double figure rebounding game with 11 boards while chipping in with six points.
The Bulls and Rockets are no strangers as the two MAC squads will be facing off for the 23rd time in their history. The Toledo Rockets have been dominant in the all-time series as they own the 18-4 advantage over the Bulls while downing UB 71-60 in their lone meeting in Toledo a season ago. The Bulls and Rockets have split their last four meetings while Buffalo has won two straight in the series at Alumni Arena.
The Bulls have been a great home team over the last 3+ seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack as they own a 34-13 record at Alumni Arena. UB hasn't lost more than five games at home in a season in the past three seasons. UB has started off their 2016-17 campaign with eight straight home wins, marking the best start at home since 1998-99 when UB started off 10-0 in front of the home fans. The Buffalo offense is averaging 70.2 PPG while allowing just 51.4 PPG at home this season.
One of the major strengths of the Bulls this season has been their depth at every position. The Bulls have played all 13 players in at least five games this season while 12 players have appeared in at least 10 games. Buffalo has seen 12 players net at least seven points in a game this season and they have been led in scoring by six different players through 14 games. UB has had at least eight players score in 12 of 14 games this season.
CLEANING THE GLASS
One of the keys to the Bulls success this season has been winning the battle on the boards but this didn't prove to be true for the second straight game on Saturday. The Bulls won the battle of the boards 42-38 but were handed a 17-point loss at Central Michigan. With the loss, UB dropped to 11-3 on the year and 28-7 over the past two seasons when winning or tying the rebounding battle. As a team, UB ranks 2nd in the MAC and 23rd in the NCAA in rebounds per game (43.9/game).
BULLS RANK 12TH IN NATION IN OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING
Buffalo has been getting after the offensive glass all season long and this continued on Saturday afternoon against the Central Michigan Chippewas. The Bulls gathered a season-high 22 offensive rebounds and turned those opportunities into 12 second chance points in the loss. UB has now won the offensive rebounding battle in 12 of their 14 games this season. On the year, UB ranks 12th in the NCAA in offensive rebounds (17.0/game) and 10th in rebound margin (+11.0). UB is also averaging 14.3 second chance points/game so far this season while holding their opponents to an average of 7.6/game.
SMITH CONTINUES TO RISE ALL-TIME SCORING CHARTS
After becoming just the 23rd player in UB history to notch their 1,000th point on Wednesday at Ohio, senior JoAnna Smith continued to score the basketball on Saturday. With her 11-point effort, Smith moved into 21st place on the all-time scoring charts and she trails Kim Coon by just four points to enter the top-20 in program history. Smith sits just 38 points shy of 19th place and 61 points shy of 18th place on the all-time charts.
THE PINE IS FINE
The Buffalo bench has been strong all season and their solid play continued on Saturday in the loss to Central Michigan. The UB bench was able to outscore the Chippewas reserves 17-3 in the game as Courtney Wilkins netted six points and Brittany Morrison finished with five in the defeat. UB is now 10-2 on the year when their bench outscores their opponents bench. UB is getting an average of 25.9 PPG out of their bench players on the season.
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. The Bulls weren't able to win this category on Saturday and it resulted in their second straight loss. The Chippewas outshot the Bulls 44.6%-38.0% as they ran away with a 17-point victory. UB is 9-0 this season and 26-1 over the past two seasons when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponents.
PAINT SCORING KEY TO SUCCESS
Playing for a coach that dominated the paint throughout her very successful career, the talented Bulls have begun to take a page out of their coaches book as they have won the battle in the paint in 12 of their 14 games this season. UB was outscored 40-34 in the paint on Saturday and they were handed the loss. The Bulls are 11-2 on the year when winning the battle in the paint as they are averaging 31.4 points while limiting opponents to just 22.6 points inside the paint.
NO SECOND CHANCES
The Bulls have turned into one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the nation while also limiting their opponents to limited second chance opportunities. Over their last seven games, the Bulls have limited their opponents to an average of 6.3 second chance points. UB held St. Bonaventure to zero second chance points earlier this season. The rebounding effort by the Bulls has been impressive as they are limiting their last five opponents to just 8.5 offensive rebounds/game.
The depth of the Bulls has been a strength all season long and it has helped UB produce a 11-3 record to start the season. All 13 UB players are averaging at least 5.6 minutes of action a game while only three UB players are averaging at least 20 minutes/game. The Bulls have 12 players averaging at least 8.8 minutes/game while JoAnna Smith's playing time went from 34.4 minutes/game last season to 28.7 minutes/game this year, helping the senior stay fresh for another late season run.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JO
Senior leading scorer JoAnna Smith wasn't able to get into a great groove offensively on Saturday afternoon as she was limited to 4-for-17 from the floor and 11 points in the loss to Central Michigan. The Southaven, MS native finished the game going 2-for-10 from behind the arc as she has now connected on at least one three pointer in 48 of her last 50 games and at least three triples in 27 of her last 50 games. Smith sits in fourth place on the all-time three pointers made list with 151 makes in her career and she is now just 10 threes shy of third place on the list. Buffalo is 9-2 this season and 28-13 over the past two seasons when Smith scores at least 10 points in a game. On the season, Smith is averaging a team-best 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals while leading UB in scoring six times.
REID ALL ABOUT IT
Junior point guard Stephanie Reid got back on track distributing the ball on Saturday afternoon but it wasn't enough as the Bulls were handed the loss. The Australia native finished off her strong game with 11 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals as she has now recorded at least eight helpers in in five of her last seven games for the Bulls. Reid currently sits in 8th place on the all-time assist chart with 327 career helpers and she is now just three shy of 7th place on the all-time charts. The junior has reached double figures in scoring seven times in her last 11 games. The crafty defender ranks 11th in the MAC averaging 1.9 SPG after notching three thefts last time out. Behind her recent strong play, Reid is averaging 9.0 points, 6.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals while ranking second in the MAC in assist/turnover ratio (2.6) and third in assists (6.4 APG).
ONWUKA NOTCHES FIRST CAREER DOUBLE-DOUBLE
Freshman Theresa Onwuka has continued to improve and earn the trust of the UB coaching staff through 14 games this season. The lengthy guard was awarded for her strong play with her first career start on Saturday and she produced in a big way with her first career double-double. Onwuka was able to lead UB in scoring with 15 points while adding 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists across a career-high 29 minutes of action. She finished the game going 5-for-12 from the floor while snagging a career-best seven offensive rebounds. The freshman has now went over the 20 minutes played mark three times in her last four games. On the year, the Nigeria native is averaging 13.9 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 0.9 SPG through 14 career games.
SUMMER HEMPHILL EARNS 1ST CAREER START
Freshman forward Summer Hemphill has shown flashes of greatness through her first 14 games and because of those flashes she was awarded with her first career start on Saturday. The Buffalo native didn't disappoint in her first career start as she played a career-high 35 minutes and produced six points, 11 rebounds, a block and steal. Hemphill went 3-for-8 from the floor and currently ranks third in the MAC in field goal percentage (58.0%). The freshman continues to cause problems for opposing teams with her length at the top of the Buffalo press while also settling in defensively as she has notched at least one block in 11 straight games and has recorded at least one steal in 10 of 14 games. She has also notched two blocks in six of her last 11 games as her quick leaping ability has caused problems for opposing bigs. Through 14 career games, Hemphill is averaging 7.1 points, a team-high 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks while notching double digit rebounds a team-best twice this season. Her 2.6 offensive rebounds/game ranks 10th in the MAC so far this season.
DOMINANT WHEN ON THE FLOOR
Junior center Cassie Oursler has proved to be one of the most dominant post players in the conference when she is able to stay out of foul trouble. Unfortunately for the Bulls and Oursler, Saturday the Grand Island, NY native fouled out after just 15 minutes of work. The junior was able to score 11 points on 4-for-6 from the floor in her limited action. She has fouled out four times this season including the last two games, both losses. On the season, Oursler is averaging 19.2 minutes, 9.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 47.9% from the floor and 66.7% from the charity stripe. Dating back to last season, Oursler has scored in double figures in 12 of her last 21 games while recording at least one block in 19 of 24 as she has turned into a defensive stopper inside the paint for UB. Oursler has notched 14 multi-block games in her 38 career outings.
SODADE'S PLAYING TIME INCREASING
After a strong finish to her freshman campaign, sophomore Ayoleka Sodade has continued to grow into a strong bench player for the Bulls this season. The sophomore came off the bench on Saturday and produced three points and two rebounds in just four minutes of action. Sodade has seen an increase in playing minutes over the last nine games as she is averaging 9.7 minutes/game and the Bulls have gone 6-3 in those games. Sodade has been in double figures in minutes six times in her last nine games. On the year, Sodade is averaging 8.8 minutes, 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds while being a strong on ball defender.
TURNING THEM OVER
Through their first 14 games, the Bulls have won the points off turnovers category 10 times and they own a 9-1 record in those games. On Saturday, UB held the 20-17 edge in scoring off of turnovers as the Bulls forced 18 Chippewa turnovers in the game. UB turned the ball over 19 times in the loss. On the year, UB is forcing an average of 17.6 turnovers/game while turning those turnovers into an average of 19.6 points/game.
BAD(E) TO THE BONE
Sophomore Gabi Bade has proved to be a legitamate scoring threat off the Buffalo bench over her two-year career. The Milpitas, CA native had a quiet game on Saturday as she was only able to grab a rebound in seven minutes of work against the Chippewas. Bade is having a career year for UB as she is averaging 15.7 minutes, 5.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists while also netting a career-high 16 points earlier in the season. UB is 3-0 this season and 5-1 over the past two seasons when Bade nets at least 10 points.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
The Bulls haven't been known to be a team that likes to get out on the fast break and run but that trend has begun to change early on this season with the addition of some athletic and talented freshman. The Bulls were able to win the fast break category once again in Saturday's loss at Central Michigan, 4-0. On the season, UB owns the 120-33 edge in fast break scoring and are 10-2 when winning the fast break category.
CHARITY STRIPE PROWESS
Having a point guard who can shoot free throws at a high percentage is a major plus for teams hoping to compete for championships and Buffalo has just that in junior Stephanie Reid. The Melbourne, Australia native has been great at the charity stripe for the Bulls over her career as she has made 157-of-206 attempts (76.2%), ranking seventh in program history for free throw percentage.