No. 11 Women's Hoops Set To Lock Horns With #6 USF In The NCAA Tournament On Saturday

No. 11 Women's Hoops Set To Lock Horns With #6 USF In The NCAA Tournament On Saturday


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (27-5, 16-2 MAC) will open up the 2018 NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon against the No. 6 seeded South Florida Bulls. The two sides will square off inside the Tucker Civic Center on the campus of Florida State University at around 1:30 pm. Buffalo is making their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last three seasons while South Florida is making their fifth tournament appearance in the last six seasons.


  • After earning their first ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, No. 11 Buffalo will open up the tournament on Saturday afternoon against No. 6 South Florida in Tallahassee, FL.
  • Buffalo is making their second trip in three seasons to the NCAA Tournament as they fell in 2016 to No. 3 Ohio State by the score of 88-69.
  • This marks the first meeting between the two programs in school history.
  • Buffalo has posted a program record 27 wins and 16 MAC wins on the year. Of the Bulls 27 victories this season, 19 have been by double figures which is the most in school history.
  • UB has owned the fast break scoring category all season long as they have outscored their opponents 370-109 on the year. The Bulls have won the fast break scoring category 28 times this season and own a 25-3 record when they do so.
  • The Buffalo offense has put up a program record 16 games this season of 80+ points. The UB offense has also scored 70+ points in 19 of their 21 games against MAC opponents this season, most in school history.
  • Junior Cierra Dillard earned the MAC All-Tournament team nod after averaging a team-best 19.7 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 steals and 4.7 rebounds while connecting on a team-best 12 three pointers during the three games in Cleveland.
  • Buffalo point guard Stephanie Reid is one of just three active players in the NCAA to have accumulated at least 1,100 points, 600 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals (Jordin Canada - UCLA & Emily Clemens - Western Illinois).

For the second time in three seasons, the UB women's basketball team will be participating in the NCAA Tournament but this time UB qualified as an at-large team, marking the first time in program history. When the brackets were released on Monday night, the Bulls earned a No. 11 seed and will take on No. 6 South Florida down in Tallahassee, FL on Saturday around 1:15 pm. The game will be played on the campus of Florida State University inside the Tucker Center. Buffalo currently owns a 27-5 overall record while the South Florida Bulls are 26-7 overall after falling in the AAC Championship game to UConn, 70-54. Saturday's game will air nationally on ESPN2 or it can be listened to on ESPN1520 AM as Matt Mattia and Paul Peck get your ready for action starting at 12:45 pm with the pregame show.

With an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line Saturday afternoon in Cleveland, OH, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team fell just short in the MAC Championship game as they watched the Central Michigan Chippewas cut down the nets after a 96-91 defeat. The Bulls owned the advantage in pretty much every statistical category but the Chippewas were able to shoot 53.6% from the floor and connect on 12 three pointers, proving to be the difference in the game. Cierra Dillard was the best player on the court on Saturday as she notched her second career double-double with 26 points, 10 assists and four steals in the loss while Stephanie Reid chipped in with 15 points and four assists before missing most of the final quarter due to injury. As a team, UB forced 17 turnovers and turned those into 24 points while only committing a season-low five turnovers of their own.

For the second time in program history, the Bulls will be competing in the NCAA Tournament. This also marks the first time in UB history that the Bulls were able to earn an at-large bid to the big dance. Buffalo last competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 when they earned the MAC's automatic qualifying bid after going from the eighth-seed to history, winning the MAC Tournament. UB earned earned the No. 14 seed in 2016 and faced off with No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus. Despite outscoring the Buckeyes 46-40 in the second half, the Bulls couldn't overcome their early struggles as they fell 88-69 in the first round.

The Bulls currently have eight players on their roster that played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament while senior Cassie Oursler will be making her third appearance in the big dance after qualifying for the postseason tournament during her freshman campaign at Robert Morris. The Bulls have four of their starting five from their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance on their roster as Brittany Morrison, Cassie Oursler, Stephanie Reid and Katherine Ups all earned the start against Ohio State. UB sharpshooter Courtney Wilkins had a great first impression at the NCAA's as she finished off the loss to Ohio State with a season-high 14 points and six rebounds while netting four three pointers. The NCAA experience for the eight players should help this time around.

For the last 20+ years, the Mid-American Conference has been looked at as being a one bid league but on Monday night the Bulls were able to buck that trend as they earned an at-large bid. Central Michigan claimed the automatic qualifying bid by winning the MAC Tournament and the Bulls earned the at-large bid, the first at-large bid for a MAC team since 1996 when Kent State and Toledo earned the nods and both won first round games. This also marked just the second time a Big 4 team in WNY women's basketball has earned an at-large bid, joining the 2012 St. Bonaventure women's team that went on to the Sweet 16.

After putting in a valiant effort throughout the MAC Tournament, the backcourt duo of Stephanie Reid and Cierra Dillard were honored with MAC All-Tournament team honors. Dillard closed out her weekend averaging 19.7 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 steals and 4.7 rebounds while connecting on a team-best 12 three pointers as UB fell in the MAC Championship game. Reid earned the nod after averaging 16.3 points, 6.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals. Prior to the MAC Tournament Reid, Dillard and senior center Cassie Oursler were all named to the All-MAC second team.

After collecting a pair of victories in the MAC Tournament, the Bulls continue to add to their program record for wins in a season as they now have 27 victories through 32 games. The Bulls are currently 27-5 overall and finished the regular season 16-2 in MAC play as they have now set the record for most wins and most MAC wins in a season in school history. The previous school record of 23 wins was set during the 1995-96 campaign when the Bulls were part of the Mid-Continent Conference (now the Summit League) and during the 1991-92 season when the Bulls were in the East Coast Conference. UB also tied the school record for road wins in a season with 10 and capped their first unbeaten home season in division I history as they went 12-0 at Alumni Arena.

The wins continue to pile up for the Bulls of late as Buffalo has secured their third straight season with 20+ wins for just the second time in program history as they also did so from 1994-97, their first three seasons in division I. Buffalo has also now posted five straight 17+ win seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack, marking the first time this has happened in program history. Prior to Legette-Jack taking over the UB program, Buffalo saw just seven seasons with 17+ victories with their last one coming in 2002-03 season when they won 18 games. The Bulls and Ball State are the only MAC teams who currently have recorded five straight seasons with 17+ wins. The Bulls are currently the only MAC team to win 19+ games in four straight seasons.
The Bulls were able to close out the regular season with nine straight MAC victories as they set the program record for conference wins with 16, going 16-2 overall. Prior to this season, the most MAC wins the Bulls ever produced in a season was 11 which they recorded in 2014-15. UB has now notched four seasons with at least 10 MAC victories under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. Prior to Coach Jack taking over the Bulls, Buffalo saw just one season with 10 MAC victories, 2000-01. UB finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record against MAC East foes while beating them by an average of 20.3 points/game. Overall in MAC games this season, Buffalo ranks 3rd in points/game (80.1 PPG).

The backcourt duo of senior Stephanie Reid and junior Cierra Dillard has been dynamic all season long and they continued to dazzle in the MAC Tournament. Reid and Dillard are the only pair of teammates in the country to average at least 7.0 assists (Reid) and 5.3 assists (Dillard). The Oregon duo of Sabrina Ionescu and Maite Cazorla are averaging 7.8 assists and 5.0 assists respectively. Reid's total of 196 assists ranks third in program history for a single season while Dillard's 169 helpers ranks seventh for a single season.

Winners of 11 of their last 12 games, the Bulls earned their highest RPI entering postseason play in program history as they ranked #22. UB also garnered some national attention as they received two votes in the latest USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, marking a program record eighth straight week UB has earned a vote. UB has posted 11 victories against teams ranked inside the top-100 in the RPI polls, downing them by an average of 13.4 points/game.

A focus of this Buffalo team has been defending the three-point shot and the Bulls have taken that to heart through 32 games this season. The Bulls rank 1st in the MAC and 9th in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 27.0% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 5.4 made three-pointers made/game on 20.2 attempts/game. The Bulls have held 15 opponents to less that five three pointers made in a game this season including seven of their last 12. The Bulls have held 29 of their 32 opponents to under 40% from behind the arc this season. UB has held its last 11 opponents to 55-for-235 from behind the arc (23.4%). UB also leads the conference in three point defense across 18 conference games as they held their opponents to just 25.6% shooting from deep. Earlier this season, Buffalo held Clemson to no three pointers made, marking the first time that has happened at UB since November 14, 2015 when they held LIU Brooklyn to 0-for-14 from deep.

The Bulls are beginning to dominate the paint as of late and that is making head coach Felisha Legette-Jack very happy as UB has won or tied the scoring in the paint category in 28 of their last 29 games and 29 times overall this season. Last time out, UB won
the battle inside 36-24 but was defeated by Central Michigan. In the Bulls road win at Toledo earlier this year, UB was able to set a new program record as they scored 66 points in the paint, scoring 33 of their 36 field goals inside the painted area. The Bulls are now 24-4 this season when winning the battle inside as they are averaging 37.6 points/game in the paint while holding their opponents to an average of 24.5 points/game down low.

The Buffalo offense underwent a change this offseason to become a quicker, more effective unit and that has produced some strong offensive efforts during the Bulls 27-5 record. The Bulls have now produced a program record 16 games, 10 of their last 15, of 80+ points this season. The 16 games with 80+ points are the most in a season overall as the previous school record of 14 was set by the 1996-97 squad when UB was in the Mid-Continent Conference (Now called the Summit League). UB has also scored at least 70 points in 26 of their 32 games overall this season including in 19 of 21 games against MAC opponents, most in program history. Earlier this season against EMU, the UB offense netted 97 points which are the most in a game since January 13, 1996 when UB posted 99 points in a win over Chicago State. The UB offense ranks 3rd in the MAC and 26th in the NCAA in scoring as they are averaging 77.5 points/game.

One of the keys to the Bulls success this season has been their ability to rebound the basketball. The Bulls currently rank 1st in the MAC and 14th in the NCAA in rebounds/game as they are averaging 42.9/game. The Bulls are also limiting their opponents to just 39.0 rebounds/game. Buffalo is 20-0 this season when winning the rebounding battle and just 5-4 when they are outrebounded by their opponents. UB has won the rebounding battle in 10 of their last 11 games, losing the only game they lost the rebounding battle in. In conference games, UB led the MAC as they are grabbed an average 44.8 rebounds/game. Buffalo currently has two players ranked inside the top-5 in the MAC in rebounds in conference games as Cassie Oursler averaged 8.7/game and Summer Hemphill averaged 8.7/game.

Despite missing star point guard Stephanie Reid for four games earlier this season, the Bulls have been able to dish out their fair share of assists during their record 27-5 season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 11th in the NCAA in assists/game (18.5). Reid leads UB averaging 7.0 helpers which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 7th in the NCAA while Dillard ranks second on the team averaging 5.3 assists/game which ranks 4th in the MAC. During the three games at the MAC Tournament, UB averaged 16.7 assists/game while Cierra Dillard led UB averaging 6.7 helpers. So far this season, the Bulls have notched 11 games with at least 20 assists and have recorded at least 15 helpers in 28 of 32 games overall, proving that team work and sharing the ball equate to victories on the court. In a win over UNLV earlier this season, the Bulls were able to set a Division I program record with 28 assists on 29 made field goals (assisting on 97% of FG's).

The Bulls pride themselves on defense and they have turned into one of the best teams in the nation in creating steals. Buffalo currently ranks 5th in the NCAA as they have produced a total of 391 steals on the year. UB is averaging 12.2 steals/game which ranks 8th in the NCAA and 1st in the MAC. Through three games at the MAC Tournament last weekend, UB averaged 16.3 steals/game as Cierra Dillard averaged a team-best 5.0 and Stephanie Reid averaged 2.7 thefts/game. The Bulls currently have four players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 3.0 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 15th in the NCAA. Dillard is also tied for the program record for steals in a season with 95 thefts, a record that has stood since 1991-92. Senior Stephanie Reid is averaging 2.5 steals/game and ranks 7th in program history with 216 steals, just three steals shy of 5th all-time.

The pesky Buffalo defense has been able to force an average of 20.8 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle six times through 32 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 17th in the NCAA forcing 20.8 turnovers/game while also forcing 21.8 turnovers/game at home this season. The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in 15 of their last 24 games and a total of 21 times this season. The UB defense forced an average of 22.7 turnovers/game at the MAC Tournament and scored an average of 30.3 points off of those turnovers. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 664 turnovers into 683 points (21.3/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 31-7 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

Buffalo has improved all season long on the offensive glass and they are proving to be one of the best in the country of late. The Bulls are currently 1st in the MAC and 20th in the NCAA in offensive rebounds/game as they are averaging 14.9/game on the season. Last time out, UB grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and turned those into 28 second chance points in the loss to Central Michigan. In MAC games, UB turned up the attack on the offensive glass as they led the conference, averaging 15.2/game, two offensive rebounds more than 2nd place Eastern Michigan. Buffalo has grabbed at least 10 offensive rebounds in 29 of their 32 games this season and have snagged at least 20 on five occassions. Bulls take advantage of their offensive rebounds as they are averaging 14.5 second chance points per game on the year.

Senior point guard Stephanie Reid continues to rack up assists at a high clip as she currently ranks 2nd in the conference and 7th in the NCAA averaging 7.0 helpers/game. The Senior recently became the Bulls all-time leader in assists and is the first UB player and 13th player in MAC history to go over the 600 assist plateau, as she currently has 666 career helpers and sits in 8th place on the MAC's all-time charts.

1. Marti Heckman (Ohio) - 810
2. Michelle Burden (KSU) - 798
3. Naama Shafir (UT) - 722
4. Tracy Wells (WMU) - 699
5. Kacie Cassell (Akron) - 688
6. Kate Achter (BG) - 688
7. Carmen Grande (BSU) - 678
8. Stephanie Reid (UB) - 666
9. Dana Drew (UT) - 659
10. Kelly Savage (UT) - 640

This Buffalo squad is jammed full of experience and it starts with their senior class of five players, Stephanie Reid, Liisa Ups, Katherine Ups, Mariah Suchan and Cassie Oursler. These five seniors have combined to appear in 514 career games while combining to start 329 contests together. This impressive senior class has accumulated 88 victories together and they are now the winningest senior class in UB program history. This senior class is the first in the Bulls division I history to record three straight 20-win seasons. These seniors have had great success inside Alumni Arena over their great careers as they own a 42-13 (.764) record in front of the home fans, best winning percentage at home by any senior class in school history. Combined, these five seniors have played in 10,143 career minutes in the blue and white.

Buffalo turned into one of the best teams in the country out in transition a season ago and with the athleticism on the roster this year, UB is near the top of the nation in fast break scoring once again. Through 32 games this season, the Bulls have dominated their opposition in the open court as they own a 370-109 edge in fast break scoring. The Bulls held the dominant 36-2 edge in fast break scoring across three MAC Tournament games. The Bulls have now held eight opponents without a fast break bucket and 18 opponents to two points or less in the fast break on the season. Buffalo has won the fast break scoring category in 28 of 32 games overall this season and have won or tied the category in 16 straight games. UB owns the 25-3 overall record when winning the fast break category on the year. UB has scored in double figures in the fast break category 18 times overall. Over the past two seasons, UB has won or tied the fast break category in 57 of their 63 games including in 46 of their 49 victories.

Senior guard Katherine Ups received some academic recognition for the first time in her UB career on last week as she was named to the CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Region squad. Ups, a biomedical sciences major with a 3.92 GPA, becomes the first UB player since 2000-01 to earn First Team All-Region honors. She is one of just five MAC student-athletes to be honored with the recognition. On the court, Ups is having her best offensive season as she is averaging 7.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists while starting 31 games for the Bulls as they own a 27-5 overall record on the season.

One of the keys to success for the Bulls over the past couple of seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack has been shooting a better percentage from the floor than their opponents. Buffalo wasn't able to shoot a higher percentage than Central Michigan on Saturday and it resulted in a loss as the Chippewas shot 53.6% and UB shot 40.5%. When the Bulls shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent, they own a 55-2 record over the past three seasons and are a perfect 22-0 this season when doing so. Over their last 12 games, the Bulls are shooting 45.4% while holding their opponents to just 36.1% from the floor.

The Bulls have been known for their defense since head coach Felisha Legette-Jack took over the program six seasons ago which has helped UB produce three straight 20+ win seasons. Legette-Jack's goal for the team is to keep their opponent under 60 points as UB is 30-0 when doing so across the past two seasons. Buffalo has held a total of eight opponents under 50 points this season and 19 opponents under 70 points on the year. After leading the MAC a season ago in points allowed/game, the Buffalo defense has once again locked down opposing offenses as they rank 1st in the MAC in field goal percentage defense (37.0%) and 2nd in scoring defense (64.2 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense has forced an average of 20.8 turnovers/game. Over the last three seasons, UB is 64-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 30-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 19-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points scored.

The Bulls have posted 19 victories this season by double digits including a pair of 20+ point victories in the MAC Tournament. Each of the last seven UB wins have been by double digits. The Bulls earned their most lopsided victory since December 13, 2009 earlier this season as they defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes by 38, 80-42. The Bulls also have won 12 games this season by at least 20 points as they are outscoring opponents by an average of 13.3 points/game overall this season. Buffalo has also scored at least 80 points in 13 of their 27 wins this season, more than the last three years combined, and have scored at least 70 points in 16 of their 18 wins against MAC opponents. In the Bulls 18 MAC victories, they are outscoring their opponents by an average of 16.6 points/game.

Senior point guard Stephanie Reid has turned into one of the best floor generals in country over her impressive four-year UB career and is the midst of her best basketball right now. The senior has been great this season as she is averaging 31.3 minutes, 11.8 points, 7.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals on the season while appearing in 28 games. Reid currently ranks 7th in the NCAA in assists/game (7.0) and 15th in assist/turnover margin (2.8). Buffalo owns a 24-4 record this season with their floor general in the starting lineup. Reid also earned MAC All-Tournament team honors after averaging 16.3 points, 6.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals during the MAC Tournament as UB fell just short of the championship. The senior keeps adding to her program record for career assists as she currently sits at 666 helpers, ranking 6th amongst active players for career assists. Earlier this season she became just the 13th player in MAC history to record her 600th assist as she currently ranks 8th in MAC history in helpers. She has recorded a program record 15 double digit assist efforts in her career and seven this season while becoming the first player in UB history and just one of three current players in the NCAA to notch over 1,100 points, 600 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals in her career. She also was named Second Team All-MAC and All-Defensive team, for the third straight season, prior to the MAC Tournament.

Junior guard Cierra Dillard has turned into a fan favorite as her flashy passes and her pure talent have been on display all season long. The Rochester native is averaging 30.8 minutes, a team-high 15.0 points, 5.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 steals while making a team-best 73 three-pointers on the year. Dillard was on another level during the MAC Tournament as she capped her great weekend with her best performance of the season. In the MAC Championship against Central Michigan, she notched her second career double-double as she went for 26 points, 10 assists and four steals while committing no turnovers. The junior finished off the game with a season-high five three pointers while also going 9-for-10 from the charity stripe as she earned All-Tournament team honors. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 5.3 dimes/game while also ranking 20th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.0). She uses her superior basketball IQ to get into the opposing teams passing lanes and uses her quick hands to force tons of turnovers for the Bulls. On the year, Dillard has recorded at least one steal in 30 of 32 games this season while notching a career-high seven steals against Toledo earlier this year. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 27-5 start to the season. Dillard has led UB in scoring a team-best 16 times while also going over the 20-point plateau a team-high eight times this season. When Dillard scores 20+ points, UB is 7-1 this season. The junior also earned Second Team All-MAC accolades following her strong regular season for UB.

Fifth-year senior center Cassie Oursler is being leaned on heavily this season and she is proving that she is more than capable of shouldering the load down low for the Bulls. The Grand Island, NY native is having her best offensive season to date for the Bulls as she has scored in double figures in 24 of 32 games this season. The senior will be making her third appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday as she went as a freshman at Robert Morris and as a sophomore at UB during the 2016 campaign. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and a team-best 1.9 blocks while shooting 49.9% from the floor and 81.6% from the charity stripe. The senior currently sits in 6th place on the Bulls all-time field goal percentage charts as she is shooting 48.8% from the floor over her career. Oursler also moved into 5th place on the Bulls all-time blocks list as she has notched 143 career rejections as a Bull as she has notched at least one block in 28 of 32 games this season. Oursler has also posted a career-best eight double-doubles and a career-best four 20+ scoring efforts so far this season. She also earned Second Team All-MAC honors for the first time in her career.

The Bulls have been waiting for sophomore Summer Hemphill to break out and prove she is a dominant post presence and she might be in the midst of that right now. The Buffalo native is becoming a reliable source of scoring and rebounding for the Bulls of late as she has scored in double figures in 10 of her last 14 games. The sophomore was impressive in the MAC Championship game on Saturday as she netted 13 points, a team-high seven rebounds and four steals while going 5-for-9 from the floor. Earlier this season, the sophomore set a Buffalo division I record as she grabbed 23 rebounds in the win over Ohio. The athletically gifted post player is averaging a career-high 26.0 minutes, 10.0 points, a team-best 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks while shooting a team-best 57.4% from the floor on the year. In MAC games this season, Hemphill averaged 11.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.7 steals while shooting 58.6% from the floor as UB posted their best ever MAC record, 16-2, and claimed their highest seed ever (No. 2) for the MAC Tournament.

Junior shooting guard Autumn Jones has begun to hit her stride offensively down the stretch for the Bulls and that has helped UB secure 11 victories in their last 12 games. The electrifying bench player has scored in double figures in six straight games and seven of the last eight games for the Bulls as she is finding her stroke from behind the arc. Jones had a strong MAC Tournament as she averaged 11.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals while hitting six three pointers off the UB bench. The JUCO transfer has made a big impact off the bench so far this season as she is averaging 7.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 assists across an average of 16.4 minutes/game while connecting on 43 three pointers, second most on the squad. Jones has scored in double figures 12 times this season and the Bulls own a 10-2 record when she does so.