CLEVELAND – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team put its defensive vice grip on Western Michigan Friday and rolled to an easy victory in the Mid-American Conference semifinals.
The 85-53 rout puts second-seeded UB in the championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday against No. 1 Central Michigan. UB and CMU split in the regular season. UB beat CMU in the final in 2016.
The winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The loser very likely is in the 64-team field, too, as an at-large selection.
UB (27-4) stood No. 19 in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index and CMU (26-4) was 24.
UB took all the drama out of the semifinal by forcing 20 turnovers. The Bulls led, 32-24, at halftime, and 59-36 after three quarters.
The Bulls rank eighth in the nation in steals, 17th in turnovers forced and 30th in field-goal percentage defense.
Junior guard Cierra Dillard led the Bulls with 17 points. Senior point guard Stephanie had 12 and junior wing Autumn Jones had 11.
UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack was able to rest her starters almost the entire fourth quarter in preparation for Saturday's final.
Assist list: Reid stands sixth in the nation in assists this season at 7.3 a game. She's eighth on the MAC's career assist list.
Bracketology: ESPN forecast UB as a No. 10 seed on Friday and had the Bulls as one of the last four in the 64-team NCAA field. That forecast was based on UB losing to Central Michigan in the final.