TALLAHASSEE, FL – Behind a record breaking 36-point performance by junior Cierra Dillard, the University at Buffalo women's basketball team (28-5, 16-2 MAC) kept their season going with a dominant 102-79 victory over #6 South Florida on Saturday afternoon inside the Tucker Civic Center on the Florida State campus. The 102 points scored by the Bulls on Saturday are the most points ever scored by a double digit seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
Dillard had a career game on the biggest stage as the junior went for 36 points and six rebounds while going 11-for-18 from the floor and 7-for-13 from behind the arc, the most three pointers made in her career. Dillard went over the 30-point plateau for the first time in her career while UB improved to 8-1 on the year when she scores at least 20 points.
As a team, the Bulls were able to connect on a season-high 14 three pointers as Dillard made seven and Courtney Wilkins drilled a career-high five off the bench. The Bulls also were terrific from the free throw line on Saturday, going 22-for-24 from the charity stripe.
The Bulls had a slow start in their second NCAA tournament game in program history as South Florida was able to race out to the 12-4 lead at the first media timeout. Buffalo came out of the timeout with a Stephanie Reid layup and a Dillard triple to make the score 12-9 in favor of USF. South Florida then was able to close the quarter on an 8-2 run to take the 20-11 edge.
Buffalo made a run to start the second quarter as Courtney Wilkins drilled a triple to cut the USF lead to six, 24-18, but the visitors responded with a triple of their own and took the 29-18 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the half. The Bulls were then able to go on a 12-2 run that was sparked by a couple of three pointers to cut the USF lead to 31-30 with three minutes left in the half. The Bulls then took their first lead of the game with just over a minute left as Reid earned a steal and layup to make the score 37-36 in favor of UB. Katherine Ups and Dillard closed the quarter with triples to send UB to the locker room leading 43-38.
Dillard took over to start the third quarter as she helped spark a 13-2 run out of the locker room. Dillard knocked down a triple to open the quarter before hitting a step back jumper that made a defender fall and she capped the run with another deep ball to give UB the 55-40 lead. Katherine Ups finished off a layup and free throw before Dillard and Reid knocked down triples to send the game to the fourth with UB leading 71-58.
Cassie Oursler opened the final quarter with back-to-back jumpers to extend the UB lead to 75-60 and the Bulls never looked back. Wilkins drilled her fifth triple of the game to give UB the 82-66 lead before Summer Hemphill got involved and scored four straight points to give the Bulls their largest lead of the game, 96-70. Theresa Onwuka finished off the scoring in the final quarter as she made a layup to give Buffalo the 102-79 victory.
Off the bench, Wilkins was able to net a career-high 23 points and three rebounds as she went 7-for-10 from the floor and 5-for-8 from behind the arc. Reid continued her strong play, finishing with 19 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals while playing 39 minutes. Katherine Ups played great defensively while netting eight points, seven rebounds (five offensive) and five assists.
As a team, Buffalo shot 53.2% from the floor while going 14-for-27 from behind the arc. The Bulls also forced 16 turnovers and they scored 25 points off of those USF turnovers. UB turned 11 offensive rebounds into 18 seconds chance points while the Bulls continued to dominate in the open court, winning the fast break category, 10-4.
Buffalo will now move on to the round of 32 on Monday night as they will take on #3 Florida State at 6:30 pm inside the Tucker Civic Center.