ATHENS, OH – Behind a career-best game by sophomore Summer Hemphill (Seneca Nation), the University at Buffalo women’s basketball team (14-3, 5-1 MAC) held onto a 67-63 road victory over MAC east foe Ohio on Wednesday night at the Convocation Center. Buffalo won their third straight game while also improving to 5-1 in MAC play for the first time in program history.
Cierra Dillard had another strong game on Wednesday night as she notched a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a steal as she has recorded back-to-back 20-point efforts for the first time since joining the Bulls. Hemphill finished off her sixth career double-double with a career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds while going 7-for-9 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the charity stripe.
After a slow start that saw the Bobcats run out to the 5-4 lead at the first media timeout, the Bulls got their offense going and it started with strong defense. Summer Hemphill started and finished a 9-0 run for the Bulls with layups while Cierra Dillard drilled a triple and Stephanie Reid earned a steal and fast break layup as Buffalo took the 13-5 lead. After a pair of Ohio free throws, Mariah Suchan hit a jumper and Brittany Morrison finished off a layup to give UB the 17-7 lead. The Bobcats finished off the first quarter on a 6-0 run to cut the UB lead to 17-13 through 10 minutes.
Buffalo was able to race out to a 24-14 lead in the beginning of the second quarter as Dillard drilled her second triple of the game. After a pair of layups by Hemphill and Suchan after great passes by Dillard made the score 28-18, the Bobcats went on a 6-1 run to make the score 29-22 with just under three minutes to go in the half. Suchan finished off the half for UB with an offensive rebound and layup as the Bulls went to the locker room leading Ohio 32-26.
The Buffalo offense opened the third with back-to-back buckets as Hemphill drilled a jumper and Cassie Oursler finished off a fast break layup after a great feed from Dillard to make the score 36-26 in favor of the Bulls. The Bobcats responded quickly with a 10-1 run to get within one before tying the game at 39 with five minutes left in the third. The Bobcats were able to gather their biggest lead of the game, four, after a triple gave them the 47-43 lead but Hemphill cut the deficit to two with a pair of free throws to close out the quarter.
The Bulls didn’t flinch entering the final quarter trailing 52-50 as they opened up the final frame on a 6-0 run as the defense forced three straight Ohio turnovers. Four straight Dillard free throws gave the Bulls the 60-54 lead but the Bobcats didn’t go away as they went on a 6-0 run to tie the game, 60-60. UB went up by three, 63-60, on a pair of Dillard freebies but the Bobcats finished off a layup with under a minute to go to tie the game again, 63-63. Hemphill gave UB the lead for good with 48 seconds left as Dillard made a great pass to Hemphill who finished off a layup. The Buffalo defense forced a missed shot and grabbed the rebound and Reid connected on two free throws to seal the win for the Bulls.
As a team, the Buffalo defense forced 20 turnovers for the 15th time this season and they turned those mishaps into 23 points. The Bulls were able to shoot 44.9% from the floor while holding the Bobcats to just 33.3% as UB improved to 12-0 this season when shooting a higher percentage from the floor than their opponents. UB earned the 42-40 edge in rebounding while also notching 15 assists on 22 made field goals.
Oursler finished off her game with 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks while Suchan came off the bench and netted seven points and four rebounds in the win. Reid had a quiet night offensively as she finished with five points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals across 35 minutes.
Buffalo will return to Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon as they welcome the defending MAC Tournament champion Toledo Rockets. Saturday’s game will be the Bulls Girls Day Out Game and it will tip at 2:00 pm.