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UB Women’s Basketball 2020-21 Preview

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NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round- Buffalo vs Rutgers David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

UB Women’s Basketball opens the season this week with an exhibition game against Division II Gannon University on Wednesday at 1pm (ESPN3) (UPDATE: exhibition game against Gannon cancelled due to COVID-19) (UPDATE 2: Bulls will play Mercyhurst Wednesday November 24 at 1pm at Alumni Arena, broadcast on ESPN3). Their lineup looks like a much stronger lineup than a year ago. The Bulls lost only one player from last year’s team due to graduation (Theresa Onwuka), and they bring in a strong bunch of newcomers, plus All-MAC forward Summer Hemphill returns after missing last year due to injury.

The Bulls are absolutely loaded at the guard position. Sophomore Dyaisha Fair led the MAC in scoring as a freshman, finished fourth nationally and was named second team All-MAC. She also led the Bulls in assists and steals. She will be joined in the backcourt by senior Hanna Hall, who last year was the regular point guard for the Bulls, and started 30 of the team’s 31 games and led the team in free throw percentage. The other returning player at the guard position is sophomore Jessika Schiffer, who displayed a strong three-point shot a year ago.

Buffalo has three newcomers at guard. Jazmine Young is a junior transfer from Tennessee State, where she led her team in scoring last year. Freshman Cheyenne McEvans was first-team All-State (Michigan) as a senior in high school, when she averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds for the year. McEvans was also her class valedictorian. Sophia Öjhammar joins the Bulls from Sweden, where she was named the MVP of the Final 4 of the Spaulding Basketball Cup in 2018.

The front line for the Bulls also looks very strong, not just in size, but also in talent. Hemphill, a redshirt senior, was named pre-season All-MAC Second Team. In 2018, she set the MAC Tournament record with 21 rebounds in a game, and has a career high of 23, and she has shot over 57% as a sophomore and junior. Junior forward Adebola Adeyeye had a breakout year as a sophomore when she averaged 6.6 rebound per game. Junior Keowa Walters also showed improvement as a sophomore when she shot 59.3% from the field.

Sophomore forward Loren Christie showed a good three point shooting touch as a freshman, knocking down three 3-pointers at Stanford last year. Freshman forward Ramatoulaye (you can call her “Rama”) Keïta joins the Bulls after becoming the all-time leading scorer at Lake Forest Academy, the same high school where Onwuka played.

Buffalo has two players listed at center. 6-3 Elea Gaba impressed as a freshman, scoring 16 at Stanford, and shot over 50% for the season. Junior Zena Elias, also listed at 6-3, has played sparingly for the Bulls over the last two years, appearing in just 6 games last year.

Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack comes into her ninth season at the helm, and her record at UB is now 162–98, making her by far the winningest coach in UB women’s basketball history. Legette-Jack coached the Bulls to a school record 29 wins and Sweet 16 appearance in 2018, the first time a UB team in any sport has advanced that far in the NCAA Tournament. She also was an assistant coach on the United States Pan-American team in 2019.

Notes:

  • Also gone from last year’s team are Marissa Hamilton (transfer to NAIA school Southeastern University in Florida), Oceane Kounkou (transfer to Carleton University in Toronto ) and Aireal Dickson.
  • Blair Estarfaa moves up from Director of Basketball Operations last year to Assistant Coach this year. Mitch Ford, who had been the team’s video coordinator, is now Director of Basketball Operations. Kristen Sharkey and Khyreed Carter remain on the staff as Assistant Coach.