#11 Women's Hoops Looks To Keep Historic Season Going Against Defending National Champs

#11 Women's Hoops Looks To Keep Historic Season Going Against Defending National Champs


ALBANY, NY - Making their first ever appearance in the Sweet 16, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (29-5, 16-2 MAC) looks poised and ready for their biggest test of the season on Saturday at 11:30 am as they get set to battle #2 South Carolina inside the Times Union Center. Buffalo and fellow MAC foe Central Michigan are the two lowest seeds remaining in the tournament, 11 seeds.


  • Buffalo becomes just the 12th 11 seed all-time to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. No 11 seed has ever won their second round game by a bigger margin than Buffalo on Monday night with their 21-point win. The previous record was a 14-point win by Gonzaga over UCLA in 2011. Both Buffalo (21) and Central Michigan (17) beat that mark.
  • Only one 11 seed has ever advanced to the Elite Eight and that was Gonzaga in 2011 with a 76-69 win over Louisville.
  • Of the 32 teams that played NCAA Tournament games during the opening weekend, junior Cierra Dillard was second in the nation in scoring, averaging 29.0 points per game.
  • Buffalo went 49-of-54 from the free throw line over the first two games of the NCAA Tournament.  The 90.7% from the field was second best amongst teams that played two games, and just behind fellow MAC member Central Michigan, who shot 90.9%.
  • The seven three pointers from Cierra Dillard on Saturday against South Florida were tied for sixth all-time in threes made during the opening weekend.
  • Buffalo becomes just the third Mid-American Conference school to reach the Sweet Sixteen, joining this year's Central Michigan team and Bowling Green in 2007.
  • The Bulls are 0-1 all-time against South Carolina and 0-4 all-time against schools from the SEC.  The Bulls and Gamecocks last played on Nov. 17, 2077 in Columbia, SC, a game South Carolina won, 66-54.  The last time the Bulls faced an SEC team was during the 2010-11 season when they face Mississippi State at the Lehigh Christmas Classic.

After notching their first two NCAA Tournament victories in program history, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team will square off with #2 South Carolina on Saturday at 11:30 am inside the Times Union Center in Albany, NY in the Sweet 16. The appearance in the Sweet 16 is the first in school history while South Carolina are the defending national champions and own a 28-6 overall record on the year. Saturday's game will air nationally on ESPN or it can be listened to on ESPN1520 AM as Matt Mattia and Paul Peck get your ready for action starting at 11:00 am with the pregame show.

Playing for the first time in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Bulls didn't look fazed by the pressure or the opponent as they were able to collect the 86-65 road victory over the heavy favorite, #3 Florida State. The Bulls came out in the first quarter and imposed their will on the Seminoles as they acted as if they were the higher seed in the tournament. As a team, Buffalo shot 47.4% from the floor while holding the Seminoles to just 33.8% shooting in the win. Cierra Dillard led the way for the Bulls as she netted 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals while Summer Hemphill notched a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds against the much taller FSU squad.

With their 86-65 victory over the #3 seeded Florida State Seminoles, the Bulls are now just one of three MAC teams in conference history to earna Sweet 16 bid. Central Michigan also advanced to the Sweet 16 on Monday evening as they downed Ohio State. Buffalo became just the 12th #11 seed in NCAA history to advance to the Sweet 16 with only one #11 seed ever advancing on to the Elite 8, Gonzaga in 2011. The Bulls 21-point victory over Florida State on Monday marked the biggest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament history by a #11 seed.

The Bulls have posted 21 victories this season by double digits including a 21-point win over Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday. Each of the last nine UB wins have been by double digits. The Bulls also have won 14 games this season by at least 20 points as they are outscoring opponents by an average of 13.8 points/game overall this season. Buffalo has also scored at least 80 points in 15 of their 29 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. 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 MAC earned two bids into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996 this season as both UB and Central Michigan were slotted as #11 seeds. After both teams earned first round victories on Saturday afternoon, the stage was set for history in the MAC as both teams upended #3 seeds to advance to the Sweet 16, marking the first time in each schools history and the first time two MAC teams advanced to the round of 16 in the same season. Prior to this season, the 2007 Bowling Green squad was the lone MAC team to earn a Sweet 16 bid.

Seniors Katherine and Liisa Ups are one of two sister combinations remaining in the field of 16 as they join the Texas sister connection of Khaleann Caron-Goudreau and Audrey-Ann Caron-Gourdreau. Both remaining sister combos are Twins as the Ups sisters are from Wollongong, Australia and the Caron-Gourdrea sisters are from Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.

The number of Australian born basketball players continues to grow in college basketball and the Bulls feature the most on a single team in division I basketball as they have four Australians on the roster. Entering the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament, 14 total Australian born players were featured on the 64 squads. As we are now down to the Sweet 16, 10 Australians remain with the Buffalo quartet of Stephanie Reid, Katherine Ups, Liisa Ups and Courtney Wilkins making up 40% of the remaining Australian players left playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Senior guard Katherine Ups received some academic recognition for the first time in her UB career earlier this season 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. The Stablizer, as coach Jack refers to her, 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 7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists while starting 33 games for the Bulls as they own a 29-5 overall record on the season.

After collecting their first two NCAA Tournament wins, the Bulls keep adding to their program record for wins as they are up to 29 wins and counting. The previous school record for wins of 23 stood since 1995-96 when the Bulls were a part of the Mid-Continent Conference (now the Summit League) and 1991-92 when UB was in the East Coast Conference. The 29 wins are the third most in MAC history as Bowling Green won 31 games in 2006-07 and 30 games in 2013-14. Buffalo has also set the program record for neautral site victories as they have notched six wins on neutral courts this season while tying the school record with 10 road victories. UB was also a perfect 12-0 on their home courth this season, first unbeaten mark on their home court in Division I history.

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 also the only MAC team to win 19+ games in four straight seasons.

Senior point guard Stephanie Reid has been looked at as one of the best point guards in the country this season as her assist numbers and defensive prowess have been noticed. The Australian native has been putting up numbers in every statistical category since joining the squad midway through her freshman campaign. Reid is currently just one of three players in the NCAA to record 1,200+ points, 600+ assists, 300+ rebounds and 200+ steals across their career. The senior currently sits at 1,210 points, 676 assists, 363 rebounds and 218 steals.
The backcourt duo of senior Stephanie Reid and junior Cierra Dillard has been dynamic all season long and they continued to dazzle in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The backcourt tandem is averaging 47.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 3.0 steals combined through two NCAA Tournament victories. Dillard has exploded for 36 points and 22 points while Reid notched a 19-point effort and a 18-point game as the Bulls have downed South Florida and Florida State by an average of 22 points/game. Reid and Dillard are the only pair of teammates in the country to average at least 6.9 assists (Reid) and 5.2 assists (Dillard). The Oregon duo of Sabrina Ionescu and Maite Cazorla are averaging 7.9 assists and 4.9 assists respectively. Reid's total of 206 assists ranks 2nd in program history for a single season while Dillard's 176 helpers ranks 5th for a single season.

Winners of 13 of their last 14 games, the Bulls earned their highest RPI in program history entering play this weekend as they ranked #18 in the country. UB also garnered some national attention as they received two votes in the final regular season USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, marking a program record eighth straight week UB has earned a vote. UB has posted 13 victories against teams ranked inside the top-100 in the RPI polls, downing them by an average of 15.2 points/game.

A focus of this Buffalo team has been defending the three-point shot and the Bulls have taken that to heart through 34 games this season. The Bulls rank 1st in the MAC and 4th in the NCAA in three-point field goal defense as they are allowing their opponents to shoot just 26.6% from behind the arc. UB is allowing just 5.4 made three-pointers made/game on 20.4 attempts/game. The Bulls have held 16 opponents to less that five three pointers made in a game this season including eight of their last 14. The Bulls have held 31 of their 34 opponents to under 40% from behind the arc this season. UB has held its last 13 opponents to 65-for-283 from behind the arc (22.9%). 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 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 29-5 record. Through two NCAA Tournament games, the UB offense has been dynamic as they are averaging 94.0 points/game while shooting 50.4% from the floor. The Bulls have now produced a program record 18 games, 12 of their last 17, of 80+ points this season. The 18 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 28 of their 34 games overall this season including in 19 of 21 games against MAC opponents, most in program history. The 102 points scored against USF in the first round of the NCAA Tournament are the most in a game since UB scored 103 against Wofford on December 21, 1995 and the most ever by a MAC school in NCAA Tournament history.

Free throw shooting hasn't been a strength of the Bulls all season long but it has been a key to their late season success. As a team, the Bulls are shooting 71.2% on the season but of late they have been fantastic on freebies. UB went 49-for-54 (90.7%) across their two NCAA Tournament victories as Stephanie Reid went a perfect 10-for-10 in those games. Over their last six games, the Bulls are shooting 86.2% from the charity stripe as a team as they have connected on 94 of 109 attempts. Stephanie Reid has connected on 16-of-17 (94.1%) while Cierra Dillard has made 31-of-34 (91.2%) over their last six games. The Bulls currently have two players, Stephanie Reid and Cassie Oursler, who rank inside the top-10 in free throw percentage for a career as they shoot 77.3% and 74.4% respectively over their careers.

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 29 of their last 31 games and 30 times overall this season. Last time out, Buffalo was able to tie a much bigger and athletic Florida State squad, 28-28, inside the paint. 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 25-5 this season when winning the battle inside as they are averaging 36.9 points/game in the paint while holding their opponents to an average of 25.0 points/game down low.

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 18th in the NCAA in rebounds/game as they are averaging 42.4/game. The Bulls are also limiting their opponents to just 38.6 rebounds/game. Buffalo is 21-0 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 11 of their last 13 games. 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 29-5 season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 11th in the NCAA in assists/game (18.2) while also ranking 9th in the NCAA in total assists (618). Reid leads UB averaging 6.9 helpers which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 7th in the NCAA while Dillard ranks second on the team averaging 5.2 assists/game which ranks 4th in the MAC. So far this season, the Bulls have notched 11 games with at least 20 assists and have recorded at least 15 helpers in 29 of 34 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 4th in the NCAA as they have produced a total of 407 steals on the year. UB is averaging 12.0 steals/game which ranks 8th in the NCAA and 1st in the MAC. The Bulls currently have four players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 2.9 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 15th in the NCAA. Dillard also broke the school record for steals in a season (99), a record that has stood since 1991-92. Senior Stephanie Reid is averaging 2.5 steals/game and ranks 6th in program history with 218 steals, just one steal shy of 5th all-time.

The pesky Buffalo defense has been able to force an average of 20.5 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle six times through 34 games. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and 19th in the NCAA forcing 20.5 turnovers/game while also forcing 21.8 turnovers/game at home this season. The Bulls have forced 20+ turnovers in 15 of their last 26 games and a total of 21 times this season. Through two NCAA Tournament games, UB is forcing an average of 16.5 turnovers/game. UB takes advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 697 turnovers into 725 points (21.3/game). Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 33-7 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

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 6.9 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 674 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) - 674
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 524 career games while combining to start 335 contests together. This impressive senior class has accumulated 90 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 10,352 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 34 games this season, the Bulls have dominated their opposition in the open court as they own a 390-113 edge in fast break scoring. The Bulls were able to shutout Florida State on Monday in the fast break, outscoring the Seminoles 6-0. The Bulls have now held nine opponents without a fast break bucket and 19 opponents to two points or less in the fast break on the season. Buffalo has won the fast break scoring category in 30 of 34 games overall this season and have won or tied the category in 18 straight games. UB owns the 27-3 overall record when winning the fast break category on the year. UB has scored in double figures in the fast break category 20 times overall. Over the past two seasons, UB has won or tied the fast break category in 59 of their 65 games including in 48 of their 51 victories.

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 has been able to do this in both NCAA Tournament victories as last time out against Florida State they were able to shoot 47.4% compared to just 33.8% by the Seminoles. Over the two tournament games, UB shot 60-for-119 (50.4%) from the floor and 19-for-48 (39.6%) from behind the arc. When the Bulls shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent, they own a 57-2 record over the past three seasons and are a perfect 24-0 this season when doing so. Over their last 14 games, the Bulls are shooting 46.0% while holding their opponents to just 37.0% from the floor and they own a 13-1 record in those contests.

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 20 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 (37.3%) and 2nd in scoring defense (64.7 PPG). The stingy Buffalo defense has forced an average of 20.5 turnovers/game. Over the last three seasons, UB is 65-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 30-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. The Bulls are a perfect 20-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points scored.

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 31.6 minutes, 12.2 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 steals on the season while appearing in 30 games. Reid currently ranks 7th in the NCAA in assists/game (6.9) and 21st in assist/turnover margin (2.6). Buffalo owns a 26-4 record this season with their floor general in the starting lineup. Last time out, Reid was impressive as she netted 18 points, two assists and two rebounds. 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 676 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 1,200 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 31.2 minutes, a team-high 15.8 points, 5.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals while making a team-best 81 three-pointers on the year. Dillard was on another level this past weekend in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament as she scored a first round-best 36 points in the win over USF and backed that up with a team-best 22 points in the win over #3 Florida State on Monday. Dillard averaged 29.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting 54.8% from the floor and 88.9% from the charity stripe. Dillard closed out the MAC Tournament in impressive fashion and 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 5.2 dimes/game while also ranking 15th in the NCAA in steals/game (2.9). 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 32 of 34 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 29-5 start to the season. Dillard has led UB in scoring a team-best 18 times while also going over the 20-point plateau a team-high 10 times this season. When Dillard scores 20+ points, UB is 9-1 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 25 of 34 games this season. The senior is appearing in her third NCAA Tournament and finished off the win over Florida State in impressive fashio as she netted 12 points and seven rebounds on 5-for-7 from the floor. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and a team-best 1.9 blocks while shooting 50.0% from the floor and 82.1% 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 145 career rejections as a Bull as she has notched at least one block in 30 of 34 games this season. Her increased fitness level heading into the season has helped her produce 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 11 of her last 16 games. The sophomore had a huge game in the win over Florida State on Monday night as she recorded a double-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks, two assists and two steals across 39 minutes of work against the athletic Seminoles. 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 26.2 minutes, 10.2 points, a team-best 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks while shooting a team-best 58.1% 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. 11) for the NCAA Tournament.

Senior guard Katherine Ups has been an unsung hero for the Bulls over the entirety of her Buffalo career and she has proved to be the key to winning for UB over the past four seasons. The Australia native has been the Bulls most consistent performer on both ends of the court over her career as she is looked at as being one of the strongest defenders on the team. Ups had another strong outing in the Bulls win over Florida State on Monday as she netted 11 points, two steals, a rebound and a steal across 36 minutes while being a pesky defender and helping UB hold the ACC member Seminoles to just 65 points. The Bulls steady hand has started 42 straight games that she has played in while averaging a career-best 7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists across 24.1 minutes/game. Ups has netted double figures in scoring 10 times and the Bulls are 8-2 in those games.

The Bulls have been a deep team all season long and that has continued in the NCAA Tournament as Buffalo played 11 players in the win over USF and nine players in the victory over Florida State. The Buffalo bench was led by junior Courtney Wilkins in the win over USF as she netted a career-best 23 points while connecting on five triples. Senior Mariah Suchan has been a constant performer off the UB bench this season as she is averaging 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds while Autumn Jones is leading the charge off the bench as she is averaging 6.7 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals while connecting on 43 three pointers. The Buffalo bench is averaging 22.6 points/game on the season while going over 20 bench points in nine of the last 10 games.