BUFFALO, NY – After the most successful season in program history, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team has been selected to participate in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas, as announced on Tuesday afternoon by Sports Tours. The tournament is set to take place on November 23 and 24 in Sin City at the four-star South Point Hotel and Casino. Fan room rates will be available at a later date.
The eight team field that was announced on Tuesday will feature multiple nationally-ranked squads and a familiar foe for the Bulls from their 2017-18 campaign. The field will include Baylor (Big 12), Louisville (ACC), Arizona State (Pac-12), Hartford (America East), Georgetown (Big East), South Dakota State (Summit League) and Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley).
Buffalo will be making their first appearance in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout after putting together the best season in program history in 2017-18. The Bulls were able to advance to their first Sweet 16 in program history before being upended by the 2017 National Champions, South Carolina, in the Albany Regional.
Buffalo wrapped up their 2017-18 season with a school record 29-6 overall record and a 16-2 MAC mark as they entered the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid for the first time in school history. The Bulls were able to turn themselves into the talk of the NCAA Tournament after they collected a 23-point upset of #6 South Florida and a 21-point upset victory over #3 Florida State on their home court.
The Bulls will return nine players from their Sweet 16 team in 2018-19 including leading scorer and Second Team All-MAC performer Cierra Dillard. Dillard closed out her junior campaign on a high note as she was able to average 29.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.3 steals during the NCAA Tournament. Her 29.0 points/game during the tournament was the second highest amongst all players in the tournament last season. Also returning for UB will be impact junior forward Summer Hemphill who averaged 10.1 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds last season and senior sharpshooter Autumn Jones who netted 6.7 points off the UB bench while draining 45 triples in her first season at Buffalo after transferring from the junior college ranks.
The Arizona State Sun Devils are a familiar foe for the Bulls as the two sides squared off last season in Tempe. Despite playing without star point guard Stephanie Reid, the Bulls hung around for most of the game before falling on the road in a hostile environment by the score of 76-57. The Sun Devils finished off last season with a 22-13 record and earned a win in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Texas with a chance to move onto the Sweet 16 on the line.
The Louisville Cardinals are coming off of their third appearance in the Final Four in 2017-18 as they were downed by the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the national semifinals. The Cardinals finished off their historic season with a 36-3 overall record as their head coach Jeff Walz was named the ACC Coach of the Year. The high octane Cardinals offensive attack will return one of the best players in the country from a season ago, Asia Durr, who earned First Team All-American honors after averaging 18.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 44.3% from the floor and connecting on 115 three pointers during her junior season.
Another nationally-ranked foe that will be participating in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout is the Baylor Bears who saw their 2017-18 campaign come to an end in the Sweet 16 as they were upset by Oregon State. The Bears closed out the season with a 33-2 record and will return seven letter winners including Kalani Brown, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year and Lauren Cox, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. In addition, the team has the nation's top recruiting class and adds Chloe Jackson, a graduate transfer from LSU.
The schedule for the tournament will be available at a later date and can be found on ubbulls.com or at SportTours.Net.