BUFFALO, NY – On a historic night inside Alumni Arena on Wednesday night, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (2-0, 0-0 MAC) stayed unbeaten and earned some revenge on Big 4 foe Niagara by downing the Purple Eagles 88-61 in front of 1,636 fans. Prior to the game, the Bulls honored their monumental 2017-18 campaign and team by unveiling a Sweet 16 banner on the wall inside Alumni Arena.
The Bulls took total control of the game in the third quarter as senior Cierra Dillard went off for 17 of 31 Buffalo points to extend the UB lead out to 68-46. Dillard opened the quarter with eight of the first 10 points as she netted a couple triples before taking over on the defensive end of the court, forcing a couple turnovers and turning those into easy transition layups as Buffalo was able to run away with the win.
Dillard looked like a Naismith Trophy nominee on Wednesday night in front of the home fans as she finished with a game-high 25 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists while going 9-for-17 from the floor and 3-for-6 from behind the arc. Senior Courtney Wilkins also had a strong game in the win as she finished with 13 points and a career-high seven rebounds while Brittany Morrison earned the start and netted nine points, six rebounds and three assists across 21 minutes of work.
As a team, the Bulls completely dominated the paint as they outscored the Purple Eagles 52-20 while also owning the 16-0 edge in fast break scoring. The defense was able to force 29 Niagara turnovers which they turned into 17 points while notching 15 steals as a team. UB had eight players notch at least one steal in the win.
After a back-and-forth first quarter that saw UB earn the 20-18 edge, the Bulls began to pull away in the second quarter, thanks in large part to their defense. The Purple Eagles tied the game early on in the second before UB went on a quick 6-0 spurt as Dillard, Theresa Onwuka and Wilkins each made layups. The Purple Eagles responded and got the game within two, 30-28, midway through the quarter but UB got a deep triple by Autumn Jones to go into the locker room leading 37-31.
The Buffalo defense held the Purple Eagles without a bucket through the first three minutes of the third quarter and that was enough as the Bulls pulled away in the quarter, leading by 22.
As the fourth quarter hit, the Bulls were able to get their bench players some valuable minutes as freshman Keowa Walters was able to record six points and four rebounds while fellow freshman Adebola Adeyeye netted four points, two offensive rebounds and two steals in the quarter. Senior captain Ayoleka Sodade had a strong finish to the game as she propelled the Bulls to victory, finishing the quarter with six points and two assists.
Onwuka had a strong game in her second straight start as she went for 12 points and two steals while shooting 5-for-6 from the floor. Hanna Hall did a little bit of everything on Wednesday as she finished with four points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals across 21 minutes of work while Jones came off the bench and brought great energy while finishing with seven points and three assists across 17 minutes.
Buffalo will return to action on Sunday night as they head west to take on #3 Oregon in a non-conference showdown. The Bulls and Ducks will clash at 5:00 pm in Eugene as the Bulls will look for their third win over a ranked opponent in their last six games dating back to last season.