Ohio (15-11, 9-6 Mid-American Conference) is hitting the road for a Saturday matchup at Buffalo (22-4, 13-2 MAC). Ohio defeated Kent State, 79-78, on Wednesday. Buffalo last defeated Bowling Green, 88-67, on the road.
Here’s what you need to know about the Bulls:
All time series: Buffalo leads, 21-17
Last time they played: The Bobcats lost to the Bulls, 67-63, in The Convo on Feb. 17. Amani Burke led the Bobcats with 20 points on 7-17 shooting. She also pulled down eight rebounds. Ohio shot just .333 from the field. Cierra Dillard had 20 points and Summer Hemphill added 19 for the Bulls.
Scouting Buffalo: The Bulls can score the basketball. They average 77.2 points per game. Four Bulls average double-figures in points per game. Cierra Dillard leads the team (14.8), and Cassie Oursler trails her (14). All four are capable scorers and can attack from different aspects of the offense.
Buffalo is undefeated at home this season. The only two conference losses for Buffalo were at Central Michigan and at Northern Illinois.
How Ohio can beat Buffalo: Defense. Ohio gave up only 67 points to Buffalo in the teams’ first matchup this season and forced 25 Buffalo turnovers. Buffalo doesn’t turn the ball over often but struggled against the athleticism of Ohio’s defense, and Cierra Hooks in particular. Hooks, who holds the single-season record for steals in Ohio history, had seven steals in the first matchup. In her last game, Hooks had nine steals. If the Bobcats want to win, defense will be the key.
Key stat: 77.2
The Bulls average 77.2 points per game. If they reach — or go over — that average, it will be difficult for the Bobcats to pull off the late-season MAC upset they have planned. Also, the Bulls’ turnover number will be indicative of their offensive output. If they take care of the ball, they’re hard to beat.
Player to watch: Stephanie Reid, guard, No. 1
Reid had a quiet night the last time the teams squared off, but it was largely because the Bobcats put an emphasis on her. Reid shoots .393 from beyond the arc and is a primary ball handler for the Bulls. If she has a good game, the Bulls are a favorite in the MAC. The Bobcats have to worry about Reid handling the ball and shooting it, all while keeping the forwards in the paint in check.
What it means for Ohio: A win would keep Ohio on track for a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament, which is quickly approaching.