The historic season of the University at Buffalo women's basketball team continued Monday night after the Bulls steamrolled past third-seeded Florida State, 86-65, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Tallahassee, FL.
The Bulls became just the third team in Mid-American Conference history to advance to the Sweet 16, joining the 2007 Bowling Green Falcons and Central Michigan, who also advanced this year.
"I am so grateful to be with these young ladies who teach me every day that every day I have to bring something different because they're such ferocious learners and they want it so desperately," head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "Not necessarily to win, but to tell their story. I'm so honored to coach these young ladies. They took a broken coach and they took her to the Sweet 16."
Mariah Suchan made a free throw to break a 28-all tie with 1:43 left in the half and the Bulls never trailed again. Sparked by eight points from Cierra Dillard, the Bulls finished the half on an 11-2 scoring run to take a 39-30 lead at the break. The nine-point halftime advantage was even more impressive considering star point guard Stephanie Reid spent most of the second quarter on the bench with foul trouble.
All five UB starters scored in double-figures, led by Dillard's 22. Summer Hemphill notched a double-double with 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Reid had 18 points and Ourlser and Katherine Ups added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
"We take a lot of pride in our defense and we knew today that was going to be such a huge emphasis for us," Reid said. "We held them to 65 points, when they score a lot; knowing coming into that game, they score a lot. I thought we did really well controlling the pace today and we just locked in on our defense and I think that really helped us get this in."
"It's one-ness. Coach always preaches to us that we do this as a team," Dillard said. "The thing about Buffalo is that no one person is standing on their own. We do this as 14 strong, we do this as five coaches strong. We do this as a staff strong."
UB President Satish Tripathi congratulated the team on its victory.
“Congratulations to the UB women’s basketball team and Coach Jack on your win over Florida State and advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16!" Tripathi said in a statement. "What an incredible run from an amazing team. We will see you in Albany! All of UB is proud of you.”
The Bulls will next play defending national champion South Carolina, the two seed, on Saturday in Albany.