Buffalo (13-4, 5-1 MAC) vs. Northern Illinois (11-7, 3-3 MAC)
January 26, 2019
Alumni Arena – 2 p.m.
Bulls on the Air
Radio – ESPN 1520-AM WWKB/TuneIn App
BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team continues its mini home stand as they host Northern Illinois on Saturday. It is the annual Girls Day Out game where fans can meet princesses Jasmine, Cinderella and Belle before the game and get post-game autographs with the team after the game. All fans in attendance will receive a chocolate bar from Niagara Frey. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ with Paul Peck (pbp) and Amy Audibert (color) announcing and broadcast on ESPN 1520 WWKB and TuneIn Radio with Matt Mattia announcing.
• The contest will mark the 25th meeting all-time between the two teams, with NIU holding the series advantage, 16-8. The Huskies have won the past three meetings, most recently an 86-84 overtime victory in DeKalb on January 6, 2018.
• Buffalo is coming off of a 91-72 win over Akron. The Bulls had five players score in double-figures for the first time since March 19, 2018 against Florida State in the NCAA Tournament and tied a season-high with 91 points.
• Dillard has scored 20+ points in 15 of the last 17 games and is currently averaging 25.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.4 apg and 3.0 stls/gm across that stretch. The senior is currently second in the nation in scoring.
• Dillard was placed on the Wade Trophy watch list to begin the season, marking the first UB player in school history to earn a spot on the prestigious list that named the top 35 players in the NCAA. Earlier this season she earned a spot on the Naismith Award watch list. Dillard has also been named Mid-American Conference Player of the Week on four occasions already this season.
GAME 17 RECAP: AKRON
• Five players scored in double figures as the University at Buffalo women's basketball team defeated Akron 91-72 on Wednesday night at Alumni Arena. With their fifth straight win the Bulls improve to 13-4 on the year, 5-1 in conference play.
• It was the first time the Bulls had five players score in double figures since March 19, 2018 against Florida State in the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, Buffalo surpassed the 90-point mark for the third time this season.
• Cierra Dillard led all scorers with 25 points, including a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe, to go along with 7 assists, one rebound and one steal.
• Also in double figures for Buffalo were Theresa Onwuka who had 16 points, 4 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, Brittany Morrison narrowly missed out on a double-double with a career-high 15 points and 9 rebounds, Marissa Hamilton also posted a new career-high with 13 points, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and Summer Hemphill went for her second straight double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while also adding four assists and a steal on the night.
• Buffalo outshot Akron both from the field and from beyond the arc, shooting 49.3% FG and 40% 3FG, respectively, and once again won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Zips 33-23 and scored 29 points off of 18 Akron turnovers.
PREVIEWING NORTHERN ILLINOIS
• The Northern Illinois Huskies enter Saturday afternoon's contest against the Bulls with an 11-7 overall, 3-3 MAC record on the year.
• The Huskies are coming off a 69-53 loss to Ohio on Wednesday.
• NIU is led offensively by senior guard Mikayla Voigt, who is averaging 20.7 points per game while pulling down 4.9 rebounds and dishing out 2.4 assists per game.
• Voigt is the MAC's second leading scorer behind Dillard.
• As a unit, Huskies rank second in the MAC and 23rd in the nation in scoring offense at 78.7 points per game.
• NIU is the conference's top rebounding team as they rank first in the MAC and sixth nationally in defensive rebounds per game (30.8), while also leading the conference in total rebounds (772) and rebounds per game (42.9).
• The Huskies are 15-1 under Lisa Carlsen when holding opponents to under 60 points.
TURNING THEM OVER
• Since taking over the program seven seasons ago, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack has prided herself on having a team committed to defense and that is no different this season.
• The Buffalo defense has been great early on this season in causing turnovers, as they are forcing an average of 20.4 turnovers/game across 17 games.
• As a team, Buffalo is second the MAC and ranks 32nd in the NCAA in turnovers forced this season.
• The Bulls are also averaging 10.4 steals/game so far this season while netting an average of 20.5 points/game off of opponent's turnovers.
• Against cross-town rival Canisius, the Bulls were able to force a season-high 32 Golden Griffen turnovers while only turning over the ball 13 times, a +19 difference on the evening. Buffalo was able to turn those turnovers into 32 points on the way to an 84-66 victory.
• Against #3 Oregon, UB was able to force 19 turnovers by the Oregon Ducks and they turned those chances into 25 points in the loss. The UB defense forced preseason All-American Sabrina Ionescu to commit a season-high seven turnovers in the loss.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
• The Bulls are excelling in the open court this season, outscoring opponents 183-117 in the fast break category.
• Buffalo has held opponents to no fast break points four times this season, while recording at least two fast break points in 16 of 17 contests.
• Over the past two seasons, the Bulls have won or tied the fast break category in 70 of their 83 games, including 57 of their 63 wins.
HOME SWEET HOME
• Since Legette-Jack took over before the 2012-13 season, the Bulls hold a 61-28 (.685) record at home across 89 contests.
• Over the last two plus seasons, UB is 27-6 at Alumni Arena.
• Last year, Buffalo finished a perfect 12-0 at home overall and 9-0 in conference play. On the flip side, Legette-Jack's Bulls are 71-52 (.577) on the road or on neutral ground during her tenure.
• After seeing two of its teams advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament a year ago (Buffalo, Central Michigan), the Mid-American Conference continues to gain respect on the national stage as three teams are currently ranked in the Mid-Major Top-25 - No. 7 Central Michigan, No. 8 Ohio, No. 9 Buffalo
*Receiving votes: Toledo, Kent State (OH)
**As of January 22, 2019
• Buffalo is tied with Ball State for the youngest roster in the MAC with six true freshmen.
• Buffalo's six freshmen rank as the fifth most freshmen on a NCAA Division I women's basketball roster in the country. Only 18 teams have more the Buffalo's six.
• Senior Cierra Dillard is in her final season in a Buffalo uniform and the ultra-talented guard has accumulated 1,774 career points across her stops with UMass and the Bulls. She finished off her first season in a UB jersey leading the squad with 566 points which ranked fourth in school history for points in a single season.
• Dillard set a program record with 43 points against Eastern Michigan on January 9, 2019, besting the previous mark of 39 set by Brittany Hedderson in 2011.
• So far this season, Dillard has been nothing short of great for the Bulls as she has scored 20+ points in 15 of 17 contests this season, including a stretch of 11 straight 20+ point efforts, and three 30+ point performances against #3 Oregon, Georgetown and Eastern Michigan. Dillard is currently second in the nation in scoring, averaging 25.0 points per game for the Bulls through the first 16 games of the season.
• The senior captain has led the Bulls in scoring in 16 of 17 games this season and is averaging 25.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 3.0 steals while connecting on 40.1% of her shots and an impressive 80.9% of her free throw attempts on the year.
• Against #3 Oregon, Dillard out produced preseason All-American Sabrina Ionescu as she posted a game-high 32 points, five assists and four rebounds against the #3 team in the country.
• She returned to the Bulls this season as one of two returning players in the NCAA to average at least 16.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game a season ago.
• During her dynamic run in the NCAA Tournament, the ultra- competitive guard averaged 29.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.3 steals while shooting 49.1% from the floor and 37.5% from behind the arc.
• Across her career, Dillard has produced at least one steal in 50 of 52 games and recorded multiple steals in 41 games. She set a career-high with seven thefts in a win over Toledo (1/20/18) last season.
• The crafty passer has recorded at least one assist in each of her 52 career games while recording 5+ helpers 10 times this season. She has also led the team in assists 28 times during her UB career.
• Dillard has led the Bulls in scoring 35 times since joining the program while going over the 20-point plateau a team-high 26 times. The Bulls own a 21-5 record when Dillard scores 20+ points.
SUMMER TIME IN BUFFALO
• Junior forward Summer Hemphill made her first return to the court since last March on Dec. 18th against Dartmouth.
• Hemphill is currently averaging 12.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game on the season.
• In her 2018-19 season debut, the versatile scorer knocked down a career-high 24 points on the night while adding 14 rebounds to her stat line on her way to her 11th career double-double performance. Hemphill ended the night shooting 8-of-13 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the charity stripe in the Bulls' 75-69 victory over the Big Green.
TAKING OVER THE REIGNS AT POINT GUARD
• With the departure of the Bulls all-time leader in assists, Stephanie Reid, UB needed to find a replacement at the point guard spot and it appears as though they have found their floor general in sophomore Hanna Hall.
• Hall returns for her second year with the Bulls and looks poised to take over the starting duties after earning the start in each of the Bulls 16 games this season.
• The Hamilton, ON native is currently averaging 27.4 minutes, 6.6 points, 2.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
• The sophomore point had the best game of her career at Eastern Michigan (1/9/19) as she went 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc on the night, finishing with a career-high 20 points. She also added three rebounds, three steals and an assist to her impressive stat line.
• Hall came up big in the MAC opener against Ohio, connecting on a season-best four three-pointers, including two to tie the game late, finishing the game with 12 points, 7 assists, two rebounds and three steals across 44 minutes of work.
ONWUKA TURNING HEADS IN STARTING ROLE
• Junior wing Theresa Onwuka has been a strong bench player for the Bulls across her first two seasons with the squad but she has embraced her new role as a starter this season, starting in all 16 contests for the Bulls on the year.
• The Nigeria native earned an invite to the Nigerian national camp over the summer as she practiced and trained with the top basketball players from her home country. The experience helped Onwuka grow as a player and helped build her confidence.
• Onwuka is enjoying a strong junior season, averaging 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 51.8% from the floor and 74.5% from the free throw line.
• The junior guard proved she could compete with any team in the nation, pulling down a season-high 13 rebounds while adding five points and two assists against #8 Stanford.
• Against #3 Oregon, Onwuka played 21 minutes and finished with three points, three steals, two assists and two rebounds.
• In the Dec. 18th showdown against Dartmouth, Onwuka was a key contributor to the Bulls offense as she connected on 7-of-12 from the floor, good for an 18 point outburst. Onwuka also grabbed a then season-high nine rebounds in an all-around performance that helped guide the Bulls to the 75-69 victory.
WILKINS CONTINUES STRONG PLAY
• Senior sharpshooter Courtney Wilkins looked to be more of a factor and score the ball on a more consistent basis and she has embraced that role, averaging 26.6 minutes per game.
• Earning her third straight start early in the campaign, Wilkins was a difference maker for the Bulls on Nov. 23rd against #3 Oregon as she netted a season-high 19 points while connecting on a season-best 5-of-11 three-pointers across 30 minutes.
• Wilkins showed flashes of being an impact performer near the end of last season as she went off for a career-high 23 points off the bench in the Bulls First Round NCAA Tournament victory over #6 South Florida. Wilkins finished the game going 7-for-10 from the field and 5-for-8 from behind the three-point line in the win.
• For the second straight season, the UB women's basketball team was pegged as the preseason favorite to win the MAC East by the conference coaches.
• Buffalo earned 62 total points and four first-place votes, just edging out Miami (OH) who notched 61 total points and five first-place votes.
• The defending MAC East champions also earned three votes to win the MAC Tournament Championship, trailing only last season's MAC champion Central Michigan who earned eight votes.
HONORS KEEP ROLLING IN FOR DILLARD
• Senior guard Cierra Dillard was named MAC East Player of the Week on January 15th after leading the Bulls to wins at Eastern Michigan and Miami (OH). It was the fourth weekly honor for Dillard this season.
• The Rochester, NY native was named espnW's National Player of the Week on January 14th after averaging 34.5 points per game, while adding 5.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 4.0 steals per contest over a two week stretch that included wins at Eastern Michigan and Miami (OH).
• Additionally, Dillard was named to the Citizen Naismith Trophy Watch List as she is one of 50 players on the list and the only mid-major player to earn a spot on the prestigious list. She is also the lone UB women's basketball player to earn a spot on the list in school history.
• She was also selected by local media and athletic communication offices as the Preseason Big 4 Player of the Year.
• Dillard was also one of three unanimous First Team All-Big 4 representatives.
OH HOW SWEET IT WAS
• The Bulls put together their best season in program history last season as they were able to notch their first-ever NCAA Tournament game victories, downing #6 South Florida and #3 Florida State.
• Buffalo and Central Michigan became just the second and third MAC schools in conference history to earn a spot in the Sweet 16.
• With their 21-point victory over #3 Florida State, the Bulls became the first double digit seed to win a second round NCAA Tournament game by 20+ points in tournament history.
• The Bulls were also the first double-digit seed in NCAA Tournament history to score 100+ points when they defeated No. 6 South Florida by the score of 102-79.
• During their magical NCAA Tournament run, the Buffalo offense averaged 83.7 points/game while connecting on 44.9% of their shots and hitting 26 three-pointers.
• The Bulls have always been known for their defense but last season the UB offense began to take over some of the recognition that led the Bulls to a historic season.
• The Bulls are tough to beat when they scored 80+ points as they own a 24-3 record dating back to last season when doing so.
• The Bulls have posted 80+ performances on seven occasions this season, coming away with victories in six of those games.
• Against #3 Oregon, the Buffalo offense posted their second straight 80+ point effort in the loss. The Bulls posted 82 points against the Ducks, the most scored against the nationally ranked opponent this season.
• Buffalo closed out last season averaging 78.4 points/game which ranked third in the MAC and 24th in the NCAA.
• The potent UB attack was able to set a program record with 18 games going over 80 points scored including 12 such games across their final 18 games of the season.
• Overall, Buffalo scored 70+ points in 30 of their 37 games including doing so in 21 of their 23 games against MAC opponents.
• The 102 points scored by the Bulls in their First Round NCAA Tournament victory over #6 South Florida were the most points scored in a single game for the Bulls since December 21, 1995 when they notched 103 points against Wofford.
60 OR LESS
• The Bulls have been known for their defense since head coach Felisha Legette-Jack took over the program which has helped UB produce three straight 20+ win seasons for just the second time.
• Legette-Jack's goal for the team is to keep their opponent under 60 points as UB is 32-0 when doing so across the past three seasons.
• Buffalo held a total of eight opponents under 50 points last season and they were 8-0 in those games.
• The stingy Buffalo defense held a total of 20 opponents under 70 points last season, winning all 20 of those contests.
• Over the last three seasons, UB is 76-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 32-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less.
The Bulls begin a two-game road trip at Ball State on Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m.