Heading out on to the road for the first time this season, the Buffalo Bulls took on the Duquesne Dukes in what would be their biggest matchup yet. The undefeated Bulls will remain that way thanks to an amazing second half effort and a game winning layup from Grand Island native Cassie Oursler. Along with her game winner and an offensive resurgence from Stephanie Reid, the Bulls will take home a 71-69 win over a quality opponent.
Buffalo looked to be in big trouble in the first quarter. The Bulls were unable to stop Duquesne’s Szamosi and JoAnna Smith was unable to carry UB’s offense like she usually does. With balanced scoring and help all around on offense, Buffalo survived with a 20-14 deficit going into the second quarter.
It was clear that JoAnna Smith wasn’t going to be at her best for this half and Buffalo needed to find somebody to help out the offense. Courtney Wilkins and Mariah Suchan would be the ones that kept the Bulls in fighting distance. The duo would finish the night with 9 and 8 points respectively, but it’s their interior defense that saved Buffalo as they etched away at the deficit.
One of the bigger storylines so far this season has been the lack of offensive presence from Stephanie Reid. That drought ended in the second half as Reid not only carried the offense, but she commanded it with force. With her guidance, Buffalo finally started to gain some momentum in the third quarter. The Bulls were finally able to take a slim lead before the real battle began.
The final ten minutes were a defensive bout to remember. Buffalo and Duquesne would not let each other out of their sights as each side kept trading the lead. Carrying a 5 point deficit with four minutes to go, JoAnna Smith finally found her shooting touch and unloaded a deep three pointer. After a great defensive stop by the Bulls, Reid promptly sunk her own three to give the Bulls a 64-62 lead.
Reid and Smith both made two more shots and it looked all but over until Summer Hemphill fouled a Duquesne player. The Dukes were in the bonus and threw down two free throws to get a 1 point lead with 11 seconds remaining. On the inbound, JoAnna Smith would cut into the post and ultimately miss the shot. Smith’s shot was blocked but she was able to get the ball back and send it backwards. Waiting for the pass was Cassie Oursler and from there she took the game winning layup.
The Bulls were lead by Stephanie Reid’s 15 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds. Reid had been quiet up until this point of the season and hadn’t really taken that many chances at scoring. JoAnna Smith and Cassie Oursler were both able to bring in 11 points on the afternoon. 3 of those points were Oursler’s first-ever collegiate three-pointer.
The win has big implications for the Bulls. Duquesne had received votes in the latest coaches poll and were easily the toughest opponent on UB’s non-conference slate. Buffalo now has a legitimate shot at going undefeated before conference play begins.
UB now heads back home for a matchup versus Sacred Heart on Saturday. Tip-off is at 2:00PM and the game will air on ESPN3.