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University at Buffalo women's basketball downs reigning MAC champs Toledo

The University at Buffalo to march out to its best start in its women's basketball history.

Eighteen games into the season, the Bulls are 15-3 and 6-1 in the Mid-American Conference. They've won four straight after defeating the defending MAC champion Toledo, 87-69, Saturday afternoon at Alumni Arena.

UB is on pace for a fifth straight winning season and a winning record in conference play for the fourth time in five seasons. The Bulls are top 30 in RPI and a serious contender to win the MAC Tournament at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena in March.

But there's still a long way to go before the team is ready to think about that.

"We're happy but never satisfied," UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "I like what we have right now. I like the energy, the camaraderie we have. I really love that we can have fun but we can lock into our focus very quickly."

The team's camaraderie was on display postgame with guards Stephanie Reid and Cierra Dillard, who both had games to remember against Toledo. Reid notched 10 assists, totaling five more than she needed to break the UB for career assists. Dillard, in her first year at UB after transferring from UMass, scored a career-high 30 points.

Neither hyped up their achievements. Instead, they pushed the focus to others.

"It's really just a big credit to my teammates, my coaches and everybody that's helped me along the way," Reid said. "You can't do assists without your teammates. ... It's a great personal achievement, but it's part of the team."

"It comes easy when you have the team we have," said Dillard, who is averaging 15.1 points per game. "You have to stop Stephanie, you have to stop Kat (Katherine Ups), you have to stop Summer (Hemphill), you have to stop Cassie (Oursler) and our bench is so deep. It's hard to stop us when we're clicking."

While the Bulls were able to clear their bench in the 18-point victory Saturday, the Rockets gave them a fright in the second half.

UB looked in control at the end of the second quarter, ending with a 9-0 run to go into the locker room with a 40-27 lead. Toledo slowly chipped away in the third, getting it as close as 51-47 with 3:29 remaining in the quarter. The Bulls responded with three baskets and a pair of free throws, but held only an eight-point lead at the start of the fourth.

"I saw us losing ourselves and looking at the opponent," Legette-Jack said. "When you start noticing the opponent that's coming behind you and keep looking back you lose sight of what's going forward. We just kind of had a timeout and said, 'Remember, our focus is about us. It's not about them. It's about our story.'"

The Bulls had another run in them. UB scored 28 points in the fourth, the most scored in a quarter by either team Saturday. After hitting the first two baskets of the fourth, the Bulls kept ahead by at least nine points the rest of the way. UB extended the Rockets' deficit to as high as 19.

Dillard scored 11 in the fourth, surpassing the 20-point mark for the third consecutive game.

"Our home crowd was unbelievable," Dillard said. "They were really behind us. We never felt like we were really down. We never felt like we were in trouble because of our home crowd. ... In that third quarter, when it got like the MAC Conference is, it got tough, they came through and we came through."

The Bulls have a full week to prepare for their next outing, a Saturday afternoon battle with Eastern Michigan at Alumni Arena.

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