University at Buffalo women moved a step closer to clinching the Mid-American Conference East Division basketball title with an 85-71 victory over Akron before 1,001 at Alumni Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The victory assured UB a top four finish in the MAC standings and a bye into the second round of play in the conference tournament.
The Bulls prevailed despite being outscored, 15-2, at the free-throw line and committing 21 personal fouls to nine for the visitors.
Sophomore Summer Hemphill led a well-balanced offense with 18 points for the Bulls. That was one shy of her career high. The former Cardinal O'Hara star also had a team-high nine rebounds. Cierra Dillard and Autumn Jones had 13 points each and Cassie Oursler (Grand Island) and Stephanie Reid each scored 10.
A layup by Jones put UB in front 11:10 with 4:25 to go in the first quarter and the Bulls stayed in front the rest of the way. Akron closed to 23-22 with 7:48 left in the second quarter but UB took charge, outscoring the Zips, 19-8, the rest of the half to walk off with a 42-30 lead at the break.
UB is undefeated (10-0) in home games, something that has never happened for an entire season in the history of women's basketball at the school. The Bulls have two home conference games left.
With four conference regular season games left, UB owns a four-game lead over Miami and Ohio U. with a magic number of one to clinch the title.
Buffalo State 74, Fredonia 60: Grace Licata (Williamsville South) scored all of her 21 points (7 of 13) from outside the arc to lead the Bengals (12-13, 8-10) to the victory which clinched the last berth in the SUNYAC playoffs. It will be Buffalo State's first poseason berth since 2015.
The loss eliminated Fredonia (9-16, 7-11 SUNYAC) from playoff contention, ending the Blue Devils' season.
Jenna Einink (Chautauqua Lake) had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead Fredonia.
Hilbert 64, Mount Aloysius 63: Two free throws by Kelsi Ebert put the Hawks in the lead with 2:13 to play and a basket by Ashley Repine with 1:51 go turned out to be the winning points. The win on the road in Cresson, Pa., clinched the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference regular season title for Hilbert, which will host conference postseason playoffs next Saturday and Sunday at the Hafner Recreation Center in Hamburg.
Rider (11-15, 8-7 MAAC) at Canisius (9-17, 7-8): The Griffs will try to even the season series with the Broncos, who triumphed, 63-58 last month.
Monmouth (8-18, 6-9 MAAC) at Niagara (10-16, 7-8): The Hawks edged the Purple Eagles, 65-63, in West Long Branch, N.J. Both Canisius and Niagara are still alive for a top five finish in the conference to avoid a first-round game in the MAAC tournament.
St. Bonaventure (7-19, 2-11) at George Mason (20-7, 9-4): Natalie Butler of the Patriots has posted double-doubles in her last 26 games. The 6--foot-5 graduate student is averaging 18.3 ppg and 15.7 rpg.
Buffalo State 90, Fredonia State 85: Mike Henry scored 26 points and ended his career at Buffalo State with 1,239 points, for 13th place on the Bengals' all-time list. He also had 13 rebounds. Buffalo State failed to make the SUNYAC playoffs for the first since 2014. Ian Helps had 23 points for the Blue Devils
Canisius (19-9, 13-2 MAAC) at Rider (20-7, 13-2): The winner will take sole possession of first place in the conference and be assured of no worse than a second-place finish in the final standings. The Griffs edged the Broncs, 77-76, at the Koessler Center on Dec. 29. Canisius has won its last six games. Rider had won nine straight since a loss at Iona on Jan.14.
Niagara (18-10, 11-4 MAAC) at Manhattan (12-15, 7-8): The Purple Eagles are very much alive for the conference championship if they win out. They defeated Manhattan, 72-63, at the Gallagher Center on Jan. 19. Niagara has won four straight since a loss at Saint Peter's on Feb. 2. Friday's win was its second straight in New Rochelle against Iona.
UB (5-11) at Penn State (13-0): The Bulls are walking into a hornets nest at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa. The host Nittany Lions, ranked No. 1 in the nation, will be celebrating Senior Night. Penn State is coming off a 28-13 Big 10 win over Iowa before 15,998, the largest crowd ever for an athletic event at the school with the exception of football games at Beaver Stadium.