UB women’s basketball wins MAC name, earns NCAA berth

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SHARE TWEET CLEVELAND — The exhilaration and the anticipation were obtrusive for the University at Buffalo ladies’ basketball team as they amassed the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship trophy and brushed the confetti out of their hair. The remedy became obvious. Not so much the relief of earning an automatic berth inside the NCAA Tournament, but the relief of conserving off Ohio inside the very last six minutes of a 77-61 win in the convention championship recreation Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena. The Bulls (23-nine) gained their first MAC Tournament championship considering that 2016 and their 2nd in application history. “It’s simply incredible to play,” stated UB guard Cierra Dillard, the tournament’s maximum valuable player. “It wasn’t simply Ohio; it wasn’t simply Central Michigan, it wasn’t just Kent State. We just performed through the whole thing we went through this season. We went via plenty. And we stepped it up this weekend, to maintain that trophy up.”

UB led through as many as 20 factors in the first three quarters. However, the Bobcats cut UB’s gain to sixty five-57 with five: forty-six closing on Dominique Doseck’s 3-pointer, her 5th of the sport. But less than mins later, the Bulls converted off a turnover, and Summer Hemphill’s layup off a fastbreak opened UB’s lead to 10 factors. Dillard led the Bulls with 22 elements and credited her team’s capability to stay poised in a strain state of affairs as a cause for retaining the Bobcats (27-5) from getting any closer – a reflection, she stated, of UB teach Felisha Legette-Jack.

“The poise, and what we went via,” said Dillard, who has scored in double figures in all 32 video games this season. “Central Michigan, they got here returned (inside the semifinals). We had a lead and that they took the lead with the aid of 4. We’ve got to stay poised, and that’s what teach prides herself on, preserving calm.” But as for the relief of earning an NCAA Tournament berth, while the Bulls have been projected for so long as a low-seeded at-massive team? The Bulls didn’t see it that manner, even as ESPN projected them as an eleven seed entering the MAC Tournament. They looked at the MAC championship and an NCAA berth as attaining the goals they’d set. The tournament pairings may be announced Monday. “We stayed locked in, all season, understanding what our goals were,” stated UB guard Hanna Hall, who scored 17 factors and had seven assists. “Our goals had been to be higher than remaining yr and to preserve getting higher.

“I’d name this, ‘We deserved it, we earned it, we labored for this.” The Bulls set an unmarried-sport software file with thirteen 3-recommendations, but Hemphill provided the maximum jaw-losing overall performance. Hemphill, a junior forward, scored 16 points and 21 rebounds and set a document for rebounds in a MAC Tournament game. Five players held the previous record of 19 rebounds in a matching sport. “I turned into simply going after every unmarried board,” Hemphill, a Cardinal O’Hara graduate, said. “At this point inside the season, it’s now or never, so I changed into inclined to do any and the whole lot to get each board that I needed to. Get around, the field out and take hold of it.” Hemphill mentioned that she had no idea she’d set a match record. For a remember of perspective, Hemphill grabbed eight fewer rebounds than Ohio did as a crew (29). “She does a splendid job of pursuing the basketball,” Ohio coach Bob Boldon. “They placed her in positions in which she will do so, obviously, playing that bottom part of the zone, and that they do play loads of zone in opposition to us. So she’s around the basket plenty, and we missed enough pictures for her to collect them, it is for certain.” Hemphill averages 10.6 rebounds in line with sport and has a crew-pleasant 255 this season, no matter missing the primary nine video games due to instructional ineligibility. “Just because she becomes ineligible doesn’t mean she isn’t clever, and it doesn’t suggest she doesn’t care, it doesn’t suggest she’s not an amazing player,” Legette-Jack stated. “It simply manner she’s going to be at the shelf for nine games. “Every day she sat out, I saw her get more and more mature. And she got better as someone. She was given higher as a pupil and had a three. Three (grade-factor average) final semester. Things that show up, that you can’t control, you study training from it, and you develop from that, and Summer Hemphill has grown from that.” Now, Hemphill and the Bulls have blossomed at the best time, as the Bulls put together for their third NCAA Tournament look in 4 years. “We put ourselves within the right spot to get to the NCAA’s but coming into this weekend, we had one goal,” Dillard said. “To stroll out with a MAC championship and to walk out with (championship) hats on our heads.”