CLEVELAND, OH – Domination.
That’s the only word needed to describe Buffalo’s 77-61 victory over Ohio on Saturday morning in the MAC Championship as the Bulls clinched their third trip to the NCAA Tournament in four years.
UB was red-hot from deep, connecting on 13-29 (44.8%) behind the arc.
Summer Hemphill recorded a double-double in the first half, guiding the Bulls to a 43-28 lead at the break.
Buffalo kept on the attack to open the second half, leading by as many as 21 points (53-32).
The trio of Cierra Dillard, Summer Hemphill and Hanna Hall stole the show at Quicken Loans Arena.
Dillard surpassed 20 points for the 29th time this season, finishing with 22 points, four rebounds and five assists.
“We just paid attention to detail, had each other’s back, had our sister’s back, paid attention to the game plan,” said Dillard.
Hall was electric, connecting on 5-9 from deep, posting 17 points and seven assists.
“We were really staying locked into every possession,” said Hall, “We knew that it was going to be a game of runs, we were going to have a run, they were going to have a run, but we had to take advantage of every opportunity that we had.”
Summer Hemphill was a monster on the boards, bringing down 21 rebounds, setting a MAC Tournament record in addition to her 16 points.
“I just approached this game like any other game. I know I’m a good rebounder,” said Hemphill, “I just do whatever I can do to help the team win, that’s all that matters.”
The win sealed Buffalo’s first MAC Championship since 2016 when the Bulls defeated Central Michigan 73-71 as an eight seed in overtime.
Last year, UB made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large qualifier after falling to the Chippewas 96-91 in the finals.
There was no suspense this time around.
“These young women are getting it and that’s what makes me so proud is that they understand the messages that we’re giving to them has a little bit to do with basketball, but a whole bunch to do with life,” said Felisha Legette-Jack.
Ohio climbed within eight midway through the fourth quarter before bowing out. With the win, Legette-Jack has won the MAC Championship twice during her seven year tenure at Buffalo.
“This is a culmination of a lot of things that went right, went wrong, but us staying together and us trying to figure it out. I’m so, so, so proud of these young women, these three and the other 13 that’s on the court,” said Legette-Jack.
Her team has the rest of the night off as they plan to watch the UB mens program take on Bowling Green before heading back to Buffalo.
The Bulls will find out their official seed Monday evening during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.
Moments from the MAC Championship:
Live interview MAC Tournament MVP Cierra Dillard https://t.co/ROmziwhT9I
— From The 300 Level (@fromthe300level) March 16, 2019