CLEVELAND, OH – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team cruised to an 85-53 victory over Western Michigan in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH on Friday afternoon. The Bulls advanced to the MAC title game and will play top-seed Central Michigan on Saturday.
The Bulls ratcheted up their defensive pressure, especially in the second half to pull away. Buffalo forced 23 turnovers, had 16 steals, scored 26 points off turnovers and outscored the Broncos 53-29 in the second half. Cierra Dillard led the defensive charge with a season-high six steals to go along with 17 points and six assists – both team highs.
"I got a text from AJ [Autumn Jones] that gave us an inspiration to share with the team and to share with me and to remind me that you don't just go out there and you do it, there's something bigger than you, there's something that magical happening to this team and that had inspired me and I think I talked to the players and they went out there and did what we usually do, we played great defense," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said.
Stephanie Reid finished with 12 points, three assists and a steal in only 27 minutes. Autumn Jones also reached double-figures with 11 points and added three steals. In total, 12 different Bulls got in the scoring column.
The Bulls were relentless on the glass, pulling down 43 rebounds. Buffalo grabbed 18 offensive rebounds that led to 21 second-chance points. Brittany Morrison had eight rebounds and Summer Hemphill had six boards to go along with seven and eight points, respectively.
After leading, 32-24, at halftime, Buffalo used a strong third quarter to pull away. The Bulls ended the third quarter on an 18-4 scoring run to turn a 41-32 lead into a 59-36 advantage. Jones hit back-to-back three-pointers to help lead the charge.
The 32-point victory was UB's largest ever in the MAC Tournament. The large margin of victory afforded the coaching staff an opportunity to rest their starters and get younger players experience.
The Bulls will now face Central Michigan in a rematch of the 2016 MAC Championship game – a game Buffalo won, 73-71, in overtime. The teams split the two regular season meetings this year. The game will tip off at 11:00 am and air on CBS Sports Network.