UB women's basketball hoping third time’s the charm against Ohio

Bulls look to shock top-seeded Ohio for third time this season


Respect all, fear none.

It’s been the Buffalo women’s basketball team’s mantra, from its head coach Felisha Legette-Jack, to its star player junior guard Joanna Smith, to the redshirt players who haven’t even seen the court yet.

It holds true around this time of the year especially, when Buffalo enters Quicken Loans Arena as an overwhelming underdog to get past top-seeded Ohio (24-5, 16-2 MAC) in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals – let alone take home the conference title.

But if any MAC team should have confidence to take down the Bobcats, it might just be Buffalo. After all, its the only the MAC team to have beaten them this season.

“We don’t fear no one,” Smith said. “It’s tough to defeat somebody three times, but we believe in ourselves, and that’s what we’ll need in order to beat them. They’re a tough team, but we can’t go into the game worrying about that. We have to be active on defense and continue to play our game. That’s all we can do at this point.”

No. 8 seed Buffalo defeated No. 9 seed Bowling Green (10-18, 6-12) in a first round campus-site matchup on Monday to advance to the quarterfinals against the Bobcats on Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ohio has been arguably the best team in the conference throughout the entire season – until it plays Buffalo.

In the two regular season matchups, the Bulls used their defense to stifle Ohio’s offense, holding the Bobcats to less than 60 points in both matchups, including just 43 points in the two team’s first matchup on Feb. 3.

“We’re going to go into that game with the same mindset – survive and advance,” said junior guard Stephanie Reid. “We have to play our game and if we do, we should be in position to move on to the next round.”

The Bobcats are the best team in conference with just two MAC losses all season and rank second in the conference with an average of 72.9 points per game. While Buffalo touts a strong backcourt tandem, the Bobcats have two great guards of their own, as Kiyanna Black was named to the All-MAC first team and her backcourt mate, guard Quiera Lampkins, was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

The Bulls may be just as hot.

Buffalo is winners of its last two games. After a five-game losing streak during conference play, the Bulls closed out the season winners of five of their last six games.

“We’re going to play our game, we’re going to operate our system and do the best we can out there,” Legette-Jack said. “They’re the best in the conference, but again, we respect all, but fear nobody.”

If the Bulls are going to advance in the MAC Tournament, the defense is going to be what carries them. Buffalo is currently the highest-ranked defense in the MAC. It allowed 58.6 points per game over the season and 50.3 points over its last six games of the year, including a 70-58 victory over Ohio on Feb. 27.

“They can absolutely score the basketball, but we can defend the basketball,” Legette-Jack said.

After a strong start to the season, the Bulls dipped at the beginning of conference play, before a strong return to what they were in the beginning of the season. Legette-Jack said that she takes the blame for the team’s “light” defensive efforts, but is proud to see them get back where they were.

The Bulls will play Ohio in Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday at noon.

“My hope is that we go out to Cleveland and stay long enough,” Legette-Jack said, “so the world can see how lucky I am to have this team and these players.”

Quentin Haynes is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at quentin.haynes@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @HaynesTheWriter