UB women’s basketball advances to Cleveland after win over Bowling Green
Bulls win play-in game, will face top-seeded Ohio
As the final minute ticked down Monday, Alumni Arena’s student section erupted into an “On to Cleveland” chant.
With the women’s basketball team holding an 18-point lead during what would be Bowling Green’s final possession, True Blue and the Thunder of the East marching band celebrated Buffalo punching its ticket to the next round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio.
The No. 8-seeded Bulls (17-13, 8-10 MAC) defeated No. 9 seed Bowling Green (10-18, 6-12 MAC) for the third time this season, 60-44, in the first round of the MAC Tournament at Alumni Arena on Monday. The Bulls are now headed to Cleveland for the second round to play No. 1 Ohio (24-5, 16-2 MAC), which they defeated twice this season. The Bulls are winners of two straight and have won five of six overall.
Sitting alongside guards Joanna Smith and Stephanie Reid after the game, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said her team is ready for the next season.
“We’re moving on to the next season – the postseason,” Legette-Jack said. “I’m just so proud of my team and when we needed leaders, these two stepped up. Work happens at the beginning, and when people didn’t know how to fight, these two put this team on their backs and pushed us to the finish line.”
The Bulls jumped out to an 11-2 lead and never looked back. It was the hot-hand from deep that catapulted Buffalo from the get-go.
Four of Buffalo’s first five made shots were from beyond the arc. Smith and sophomore guard Katherine Ups knocked down two apiece and propelled the Bulls to an early lead.
Then Buffalo’s dominating defense took over yet again.
The Falcons shot just 25 percent from the floor and it was the second straight game Buffalo held an opponent to less than 50 points. The Bulls have kept opponents to less than 60 points in all of their last five wins.
Legette-Jack said the team is predicated on defense, while most teams usually run with an offense-minded game plan. She said Buffalo’s performance on Monday night is exactly what she wants to see continue as the team heads to Cleveland.
“Defense is what we are. It’s in our nature,” Legette-Jack said. “We’re in attack mode defensively. We’re not the best shooting team in the world, but when we play well on the defensive side of the ball, force turnovers, we can get some easy shots.”
Smith finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Reid finished with eight points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals. Junior center Cassie Oursler finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and three blocks.
Both Smith and Reid received All-MAC honors Monday. Reid, a sophomore, finished with All-MAC Third Team honors and was named to the All-MAC Defensive Team, while Smith, a junior, was named to the All-MAC First Team. She is also a candidate for MAC Player of the Year.
Heading to Cleveland, the Bulls face a familiar foe in Ohio. The Bulls swept the Bobcats during the regular season and were the sole reason Ohio didn’t have a perfect conference record.
Legette-Jack said the team’s mindset is to “respect all, fear none.”
The Bulls will face Ohio in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Tipoff is set for noon Wednesday.