Everything about this season's University at Buffalo women's basketball team feels different.
The intensity, the confidence -- and especially the winning.
With an 87-59 victory Sunday over Northeastern in front of 612 in Alumni Arena, the Bulls have rattled off four straight wins to improve their record to 4-3. Already, they've equaled their win total from last season, when they were 4-24.
"It's a good feeling, but not a surprising feeling," sophomore point guard Stephanie Bennett said. "We're just not surprised. We're being prepared each day. We have good offensive sets. Our defensive sets are good. Everyone is confident. Put that together and we're able to win. If we take care of the little things, the outcome takes care of itself."
The Bulls took the lead on their first possession on a short jumper by forward Jamie Schiebner and never looked back. With 9:13 left in the half, guard Rachelle Matthys hit a jumper to put UB up, 22-12, and the lead would remain in double digits the rest of the game.
"We just didn't come ready to play and Buffalo took advantage of that," Northeastern coach Willette White said. "Our defense was nowhere to be found and they played good defense, gained momentum from that and gave us a good old-fashioned whatever."
It was the freshmen who got the offensive show going in the first half for the Bulls. Matthys scored all of her career-high 12 points in the period, sinking a pair of three-pointers, while Schiebner scored 10 of her career-high 12.
"Jamie is beginning to recognize that when Heather (forward Heather Turner) is double-teamed, it provides opportunities for her to get to the rim, get rebounds and get open looks," UB coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said. "With that confidence, she knows that part of her role is to take advantage of that.
"Rachelle is one of the most intelligent players I've ever coached. She understands the game and what we need from her. She's unselfish and in every practice, she does everything at game speed. That's why she can come into a game and not miss a beat."
The UB offense wasn't missing much of anything Sunday. There was one dicey point, midway through the second half when Northeastern started pressing and forced UB into five straight turnovers. But the Bulls regrouped, settled into their press break and found open players for easy shots.
While the defensive zone was impressive and sparked the offense with several transition buckets, the offensive variety was outstanding. UB shot 68.8 percent from the field for the game -- hitting 33 of 48 shots. Turner was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field and went 4 of 6 from the free throw line for a game-high 18 points.
Five Bulls were in double figures, with Brooke Meunier scoring 13 points and Bennett 10. Bennett also added a career-high nine assists as UB had 22 assists on its 33 baskets.
The 87 points were the most by the Bulls since they defeated Howard, 87-81, on Dec. 8, 2002 at the Duke Classic.
"I think the balanced scoring and the way we shared the basketball, particularly in the first half, was good," Hill-MacDonald said. "We got looks at our teammates, passed to them and had completions of plays. We're starting to learn one another's tendencies, anticipating where a teammate will be."
The Bulls play at Oakland (Mich.) on Tuesday and return to Alumni Arena to host Bucknell on Dec. 28. Northeastern (3-4) continues its Western New York trip with a 6 p.m. game Tuesday at Canisius.