Bulls win final home game on senior night
Buffalo increases school Division-I win record to 25
The Bulls beat the Bowling Green Falcons 74-38 Saturday afternoon in their final regular game of the season and the final game for the team’s senior players.
Guards and sisters Katherine and Liisa Ups, center Cassie Oursler, guard Stephanie Reid and forward Mariah Suchan were all honored in a senior day ceremony. All five received framed jerseys after the game and were part of the first women’s basketball Mid-American Conference championship team two seasons ago.
“This is about the steps we have taken as a team, as a unit, as family to become something bigger than ourselves,” said head coach Felisha Legette-Jack after the game on Saturday. “By ourselves we could not make these things happen. It had to be all of us. Those five decided that all of us were going in the foxhole together. … You don’t beat teams like Bowling Green by 40 on your own.”
The Bulls (25-4, 16-2 MAC) went into the game against the Falcons (11-18, 3-15 MAC) with a guarantee of finishing second in the MAC this season. Had the Central Michigan Chippewas (25-4, 17-1 MAC) lost, the Bulls would have taken first. However the Chippewas defeated the Toledo Rockets (17-13, 8-10 MAC) 72-67 to take the No. 1 seed in the MAC tournament.
“[Central Michigan] set the bar really high,” Reid said. “Just between us, Central, and Ball State it feels like we have really raised the competition in the MAC. Now our conference is getting so much better as a whole. It is great.”
The Bulls celebrated winning the MAC East division after the game by cutting the nets in Alumni Arena. This win gave the Bulls a flawless 12-0 home record for the season.
Both teams started in a lull. The Bulls had 4 points in the first five minutes. Both sides played an effective defense, shooting 25 percent or less. The Bulls led at the end of the quarter 11-7.
The Bulls started the second quarter strong with three three-pointers from junior guard Cierra Dillard and sophomore guard Autumn Jones in the first 1:30 to make it a 20-9 game. Buffalo could not keep the pressure up. The team scored 12 points for the rest of the half to make it a 32-20 lead. Jones led the scoring with 8 points.
“I don’t think we played a very good first half and coach Jack emphasized that,” Reid said. “We just said the energy has to change, now or nothing. This is our homecourt. That energy came out and we exacerbated it.”
The third saw the Bulls come out and expand their lead with strong offense and defense, outscoring the Falcons 24-6 in the period.
The fourth saw the Buffalo bench come out and stop the Falcons for the rest of the game by continuing the defensive pressure. The Falcons failed to score more than 13 points in a single quarter. Jones led the team in scoring with 13 points while Reid led in assists with 7.
“We locked in defensivley. That is who we are,” Legette-Jack said. “We did a great job at the beginning on defense, so we didn’t have to talk about defense for one second today. In order for us to play in postseason, … it is about defense. Everyone can shoot. Everyone can dribble down and pass it up. Who is playing hard defense with heart is what wins in March.”
The Falcons failed to get much going after the first period, shooting 15-of-62 for the whole game. This was the second game of the season the Bulls held their opponent to less than 40 points.
The Bulls will play in the MAC championship next, starting Wednesday at the Quicken Loans Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Buffalo heads in the No. 2 seed.
Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at: email@example.com