CLEVELAND – The University at Buffalo’s improbable postseason run took another remarkable step forward Friday.
The defensive-minded Bulls played its best offensive game of the season and upset the University of Akron, 88-87, in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
It was the biggest win in the history of the UB women’s program and it put the Bulls into their first MAC championship game. UB will play the winner of a game between Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan.
A rebound put-back basket by freshman Ayoleka Soudade 3 seconds to play gave UB a four-point lead and was the decisive score. Akron got a three-pointer at the buzzer.
UB figured to need a slow pace against the more potent Zips. It didn’t get it. The game was an up-tempo affair from start to finish.
The Bulls overcame the loss of star point guard Stephanie Reid, who fouled out early in the second half.
UB also overcame a huge performance by Akron freshman Lili Piper, a 1.9 points-per-game scorer who finished with 24 points.
Yet UB survived thanks to big performances by freshmen. Guard Gabi Bade filled in for Reid and scored 13 points. Soudade got six. UB got 18 points from junior guard Joanna Smith.
Saturday’s title game is 1 p.m.