CLEVELAND, OH – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team lost to top-seeded Central Michigan, 96-91, in a hard-fought Mid-American Conference Championship Game at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Bulls couldn't overcome the hot-shooting Chippewas who shot 54 percent from the field and knocked down 12 three-pointers.
Central Michigan was clicking early and jumped out to a 29-16 lead thanks, in part, to six three-pointers. Conversely, the Bulls struggled out of the gate and fell behind by 13 midway through the second quarter. However, in true Buffalo fashion, the Bulls ratcheted up the defense and mounted a 20-6 scoring run. A Cierra Dillard three-pointer gave the Bulls a 40-39 lead with under a minute to play in the half. Central Michigan scored the final four points of the half to take a 43-40 halftime lead.
The hot shooting continued for the Chippewas in the second half as they had an answer for every UB threat. Making matters worse, Buffalo lost All-MAC point guard Stephanie Reid to an injury for most of the fourth quarter. Even without Reid, the Bulls kept fighting and were able to turn a 14-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter into a four-point deficit with 27 seconds left. However, CMU made its free throws down the stretch and time ran out on the Bulls.
The Bulls had 13 steals and forced 17 turnovers and only turned the ball over a season-low five times themselves. A key difference was rebounding. Central Michigan outrebounded the Bulls, 44-34, and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds.
The loss snapped the Bulls' 11-game winning streak and dropped UB to 27-5 on the season. The team will now wait to see if they are selected to play in the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection.
"What a wonderful opportunity to coach these young ladies," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "What a great season we're having. Still not over yet, so much more basketball to play, so many lessons to learn, so many lessons to teach, so many things to get out of this experience.
"Credit to Central Michigan, who did a tremendous job of taking that first quarter and really coming out, but credit to this team right here that don't have any quit in them."
Reid and Dillard were selected to the All-MAC Tournament Team.