UB Women’s Basketball’s amazing NCAA Tournament run has come to an end after falling to #2 South Carolina, 79-63, on Saturday in the Sweet Sixteen.
Buffalo did everything right to begin the game. The pro-Buffalo crowd rang loud throughout the opening quarter as the Bulls forced eight turnovers and scored points in a hurry. Cierra Dillard was unstoppable, building upon her incredible streak through this tournament and put 13 points on the scoreboard. UB was frustrating the Gamecocks and came out of the first with a 17-16 lead.
The tide shifted to South Carolina’s favor before halftime. The Gamecocks fed the ball to their stars in A’ja Wilson and Alexis Jennings, beginning an interior attack that UB struggled to stop. Wilson and Jennings did real damage on the long-term outlook of the game as the Bulls started collecting fouls.
The Bulls ultimately came out of the locker room with a nine-point deficit at 41-30, a heavy disadvantage at the boards, and a lack of momentum. The game easily could’ve been over there, but UB kept fighting and clawing their way back into this one.
After a long scoring drought to begin the half, Cassie Oursler stepped up on offense and drove in a layup. That shot proved to be the gateway to a UB comeback as Stephanie Reid, Summer Hemphill, Mariah Suchan, and Oursler all brought in buckets for the UB cause.
Quiet since the beginning of the game, Dillard came back into the fold after drawing a shooting foul near the end of the third. After sinking a couple of shots, the Bulls went into the final ten minutes with a chance. On three separate occasions the Bulls fought back and narrowed the gap to two posessions, but South Carolina went on a mini-run each time to cushion their lead. Dillard and company tried everything and put up a valiant effort.
In the end, the Bulls couldn’t sink enough shots to combat the problems they had against the Gamecocks’ size. It was a tremendous effort in a matchup against one of the best teams in the country.
Today marks the end of the greatest era for Buffalo Women’s Basketball so far. The five seniors that played their final game as a Bull today radically changed the culture of this program. They are a group that struggled together years ago to slowly, but surely get to this spot and contend with the best of the best. These five ladies created a team chemistry that is hard to find anywhere else. They shocked and wowed us all time and again through various milestones that the fans of four years ago could only dream of.
What a ride this has been.