UB Women’s Basketball punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen on Monday night after routing #3 Florida State, 86-65, in Tallahassee, Florida. The win comes just days after the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
Florida State was the heavy favorite coming into this game. Not only did they have one of the most potent offenses in the country, they also had the best shooter in the ACC. On paper, the Bulls should’ve had a rough time.
Surprisingly, it was the other way around.
Buffalo gave a up a few quick shots at the start of the game, but once they settled in on defense, Florida State didn’t know what to do. Coach Jack’s matchup zone was too much to handle as UB players bolted throughout the half-court towards whoever had the ball. Flustered to the max, FSU forced all kind of low quality shots throughout the first half, especially from deep.
The advantage was in Buffalo’s hands and they capitalized on it. A balanced scoring effort gave the Bulls a 20-16 lead heading into the second quarter. The only problems UB was facing were turnovers and offensive rebounds by FSU.
The game soon became a sloppy version of what we like to call basketball. Both teams were turning it over frequently and each side couldn’t get shots down. Bad news also came the Bulls’ way when Stephanie Reid was marked with her second foul, putting her out of action for the rest of the half.
Cierra Dillard did what she does best and took over the game from there, notching 12 points in the final two and a half minutes to secure a 39-30 Buffalo lead.
Florida State came out of the half looking to take advantage of their size down low. Since three-point shots weren’t working against UB’s perimeter lock-down, they decided to do things the old fashioned way. But, in the end, it only looked like the Seminoles were clogging the paint up too much.
Inside the mess that was the interior, Summer Hemphill was putting in work to grab crucial rebounds for UB’s cause. Hemphill, Stephanie Reid, and Cassie Oursler all had big quarters in the third, and just like two days before, the Bulls were running away.
UB managed a double digit lead throughout the fourth quarter and never eased up on Florida State. Even when FSU turned the game into a foul fest, the Bulls went to the line and stretched the gap even further. It was over for much of the final minutes.
Dillard lead the triumphant Bulls with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and five assists. She’s had an amazing couple of games in Tallahassee.
Summer Hemphill had an equally impressive stat line of her own: 17 points, 11 rebounds, and a couple assists, steals, and blocks. Hemphill’s effort down low cannot be understated for the Bulls in this game. She was a game changer and will continue to be.
The Buffalo Bulls are now marching on with full confidence to the Sweet Sixteen. The road doesn’t get any easier from here, but they’ve shown they can handle their own with AP Top-25 competition. A trip to Albany, NY, on Saturday will feature a matchup against Dawn Staley’s #2 South Carolina squad that have only lost to ranked competition this season. That game will tip-off at 11:30 AM on ESPN.