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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Upset win over No. 1 Toledo sends women’s basketball to MAC championship game

Bulls knock off top-seeded Rockets in overtime thriller, advance to play Kent State

<p>UB women's basketball advanced to the MAC championship game with a win on Friday.</p>

UB women's basketball advanced to the MAC championship game with a win on Friday.

After a crucial foul was called with just under 30 seconds left in overtime, the No. 4 Bulls (18-12, 10-8 MAC) were sent to the free-throw line for the 10th time in their semifinal game against the No. 1 Toledo Rockets (26-5, 17-1 MAC). With the season hanging in the balance, sophomore forward Hattie Ogden stepped forward and made a clutch free throw that prevented Toledo from mounting a comeback.

UB came away with the upset win, 77-74, against the reigning Mid-American Conference (MAC) champions and No. 1-seeded Toledo Rockets at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland in Friday morning’s MAC semifinal matchup. 

The win secured UB a spot in the MAC championship game for the first time since the Bulls won the MAC in 2022. The Bulls will face No. 3 Kent State (19-10, 13-5 MAC) on Saturday morning for the MAC title.

Friday’s win not only avenged the Bulls’ regular season defeat to Toledo this season, but also last season’s quarterfinal meeting, which saw UB lose a heartbreaker in overtime.

Buffalo stunned the Rockets as they took control early on. They opened the first quarter by scoring 9 straight points and prevented Toledo from scoring in the first four minutes. UB’s offensive prowess appeared too much for the Rockets as they were unable to make consistent stops or get any rhythm going. After taking advantage of every free-throw line visit and 3-point opportunity, the Bulls lead the game with a score of 53-38 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The reigning champs refused to go away in the fourth. The Rockets started off the final frame by applying relentless full court defense, forcing numerous turnovers and generated a 14-0 run to tie the game at 55.

Toledo took the lead for the first time in the match with under two minutes remaining in regulation. A back-and-forth battle ensued, which included a pivotal 3-pointer from UB redshirt senior guard Chellia Watson to tie the game once again at 67 and send it to overtime.

Buffalo outscored Toledo 10-7 in the extra five-minute period. Ogden scored 4 points in overtime, including the clinching foul shot.

Watson, who was recently named to the All-MAC First Team, played an exceptional game. She finished with a total of 30 points and helped the Bulls recover from any deficit they faced with her prowess from mid-range and from behind the 3-point line. Freshman guard and MAC Freshman of the Year Kirsten Lewis-Williams also performed at a high level. She marked her season high in converted free throws with 9 en route to 15 points and a season high 45 minutes.

The Bulls will face Kent State for the MAC championship tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. on CBS Sports Network. The Golden Flashes defeated No. 2 Ball State (28-4, 16-2 MAC) 65-50 on Friday to solidify their matchup with the Bulls. The Bulls lost both of their matchups with Kent State this season (Jan. 3 and March 2).

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