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Maybe they got a little mojo from Sheryl Swoopes.

Maybe they got a little caught up in the festivities for National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

Maybe they just wanted retribution for last year's butt-kicking in Kalamazoo.

Whatever the reason, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team had a ball in crushing Western Michigan, 85-56, in front of 1,344 at Alumni Arena, Wednesday night.

The win puts the Bulls alone in second place in the Mid-American Conference East Division at 6-4, 15-6 overall. Western Michigan, the once projected conference tournament winner, falls to 3-6 in the West Division, 6-14 overall.

Without question, the motivation for Buffalo was the memory of last year's 87-47 loss on the road to the Broncos. In that game, UB's Tiffany Bell sat on the bench with an ankle sprain. Mari McClure went down with an injury in the first five minutes. And then, with the game handily won, Western Michigan kept its starters in and set up a full-court press for the entire game.

"When I walked off the court somebody said to me, great win coach, with class," Buffalo coach Cheryl Dozier said. "There is no love lost between these two programs after what happened last year. I didn't know the score would be like it was, but it was retribution for last year."

"It definitely gave us some excitement," UB senior reserve Tara Perrier said. "We came out ready to go from the opening tip."

The opening tip started a few minutes behind schedule. For National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the university honored its female athletes at a pregame ceremony with Swoopes, the reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player, serving as keynote speaker.

Buffalo held up the start of the game, waiting for Swoopes to appear at Alumni Arena to offer a few words to the crowd, high-five the Bulls' bench and throw the ceremonial tip.

"I don't think National Girls and Women in Sports Day is as big as it should be," said Swoopes, dressed in a sleek black halter top and skimming long skirt.

"It's still a very important day even though so much has changed in women's sports. . . . A lot of girls struggle with thinking that if you're a great athlete you can't be feminine or you can choose to be feminine and not so great an athlete. I think little girls need to know it's OK to be a great athlete and then go out and get your nails done, wear high heels and put your makeup on."

On this night, the Bulls were more concerned with the look of the scoreboard.

Perrier hit a three-pointer with six minutes left in the first half to give Buffalo a double-digit lead. Western Michigan never got the lead under 10 the rest of the way.

Perrier had a season-high 17 points, including 5 of 11 from three-point range, as all four Buffalo seniors scored in double figures for the first time this season.

The Bulls were led by Bell's 25 points while McClure and Sonia Ortega added 14 and 10, respectively.

Freshman Jessica Kochendorfer had 10 rebounds and Ortega nine as UB dominated the glass, 52-23. Western Michigan managed only six offensive rebounds while shooting just 35 percent.

"Sonia Ortega defensively is just about as good as a defender as we'll see all year," said Broncos coach Ron Stewart. "She had nine rebounds in the first half, five of them offensive boards in the first half and she's not a person you point to as a big rebounder."

Rebounding was the focus for the Bulls, who also did a good job distributing the ball - 24 assists on 35 buckets with McClure recording a career-high eight assists.

UB, which won at Marshall last weekend, now has won two straight. Next comes a big test on Saturday, when the Bulls host Ball State, the team they're chasing for the third bye in the MAC tournament.

"Our last game at Marshall, Cheryl told us that we only had eight more games left in February," Bell said. "She wants us to finish our senior year like we started and win our last eight games."

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