Bulls beat Golden Flashes in Cleveland

Buffalo wins its first game of the 2018 MAC Tournament


CLEVELAND — The Bulls beat the Kent State Golden Flashes 72-50 Wednesday evening at the Quicken Loans Arena.

Senior guard Stephanie Reid led the team in scoring and assists with 22 points, 11 assists and 5 steals after being named to the All-MAC second team on Tuesday. Junior guard Cierra Dillard, also named to the second team, had a strong performance with 16 points, a team high 9 rebounds and 5 steals.

“The team did a great job getting steals and pushes. I know I got a lot of points in transition,” Reid said in the post-game press conference. “Assists don’t come on their own, so I guess it was a great stat line personally so I’ve got to put it down to the team.”

The Bulls (26-4, 16-2 Mid-American Conference) now increase the programs single season win record to 26. This is the third season in a row that the Bulls have made it to the semifinals.

The first quarter saw both teams limit the other on offense. The Golden Flashes(13-18, 5-13 MAC) were able to out rebound Buffalo 11 to 4 in the quarter. The Bulls kept up the defensive pressure in the first forcing 8 turnovers on Kent State. The Golden Flashes led 16-14 at the end of the first thanks to solid free throw shooting.

The second continued to see both teams exchange shots and defensive stops with one another, with three lead changes in the quarter. Both teams shot lower than 50 percent in the half, but the Bulls made the most off second chances having 21 points off turnovers. Dillard and Reid carried the Bulls on offense, scoring 26 of the teams 32 points. The Bulls led at the half 32-27.

“I think Stephanie is arguably one of the best players to come through this MAC conference,” Legette-Jack said. “She's not going to be special all the time because some games we're going to go up by 30 and I think she gets penalized a lot by that. But when the game gets tight, the ball's in Stephanie's hand. I don't care who needs to know it.”

The Bulls turned the game into a different story in the second half. Buffalo took it to the Golden Flashes outscoring them 24 to 8 in the third. The Bulls went on an 18-point run in the final five minutes of the quarter to make it a 56-35 game heading into the fourth.

The fourth saw Buffalo hold on to its lead with the bench coming in to take pressure off the starters. The fourth was closer with Buffalo leading in scoring 16 to 15. The Bulls bench had 26 points, while the Bulls lead in assist 17 to 7. Junior guard Autumn Jones had 11 points in the game and praise for her energy after the game from Leggette-Jack.

“We just put all our IQs together and read off each other and know where the ball's going and try to push it out in transition,” Reid said.

The Flashes struggled all game with turnovers having 26 Wednesday evening. The Golden Flashes best play came from graduate student forward Mckenna Stephens who had 16 points and a game high 10 rebounds.

Stephens was one of two Kent State players to score more than 6 points.

“[The Bulls] are sharks on blood,” said Kent State head coach Todd Starkey. “I think they are the best team in the MAC in turning your mistakes into immediate points.”

After the game, both teams head coaches praised Reid’s performance.

“We don't call her Mighty Mouse for nothing,” Dillard said. “She can finish through contact or anything.”

The Bulls will play in the semifinals next on Friday at 1:30 p.m. against the winner of today's game between the Ball State Cardinals (24-5, 13-5 MAC) and the Western Michigan Broncos (17-14, 9-9 MAC).

Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com and @Thomas_Spectrum.