BUFFALO, NY - For the first time this season, the men's and women's basketball teams will play a home doubleheader. The Saturday afternoon games will be the final crossover games against the Mid-American Conference's West Division, with the women facing Central Michigan at 3 pm while the men take on Western Michigan at 6 pm.
The women have had a week off since its last game, a 61-37 rout of Ball State on the road. Brittney Hedderson led all scorers with 17 points and Nytor Longar added 16 points and nine rebounds. The UB defense held the Cardinals to just 15 points in the first half and 11 field goals total for the game, also outrebounding them 50-32. With a week off to rest and prepare for the Chippewas, the team will aim to even its record against the West to 3-3.
It could be a real shootout on Saturday, with Central Michigan (12-12, 4-6 MAC) boasting the second-best scoring offense in the conference (71.9 points per game) but only the ninth-best scoring defense (allowing 70.8 points per game). Its led by Crystal Bradford and Jessica Green, who average 14.4 and 12.3 points per game, respectively. Bradford also leads the way with eight rebounds and two blocks per game. Buffalo has an 8-5 advantage in the all-time series, with the two facing off twice last season with UB winning in the regular season, 92-89, but falling short in the MAC Tournament, 90-69.
In the second game, the men face a stiff test with Western Michigan (10-14, 4-6 MAC). The Broncos are a veteran team that returned all five starters from last year's squad and are battle-tested by a brutal non-conference schedule that featured eight games against teams in the RPI top 100. It will be a fascinating matchup in the paint, with the conference's top two rebounding team knocking bodies down low. Buffalo pulls down almost 42 boards per game while Western has 39. Each of the projected WMU starters average at least 4.4 rebounds per game.
Leading the way in points is sophomore big man Matt Stainbrook (12 per game), who casts an imposing shadow at 6'9, 290 pounds. He and frontcourt mates Flenard Whitfield, Shayne Whittington and Nate Hutcheson combine for 37.3 points and 22.6 rebounds per game. Not to be outdone, starting guards Demetrius Ward and Mike Douglas also stuff the stat sheets. The top six players for Western make up 88 percent of the team's total scoring output and 83 percent of its rebounds, making it imperative for the Bulls to force head coach Steve Hawkins to look to his bench. The Bulls will look to continue its strong home performance against a veteran Bronco squad that is 4-1 at Alumni Arena under Hawkins and steeled by road games against national powers like Gonzaga, Purdue, Duke and Temple.
Last season, Dave Barnett put up a career-high 16 points to lead UB back from a halftime deficit to win 79-68 in Kalamazoo. Five different Bulls scored in double figures and the team as a whole hit 56.2 percent of its shots. Tickets are still available for tomorrow's games, and fans who cannot make it can tune in to 1340 AM WLVL for the women's game, and 1230 AM WECK for the men's game. Sports Time Ohio will be broadcasting it as the conference's game of the week, with Michael Reghi and Steve Mix calling the game.