BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo women's basketball team received some preseason admiration on Wednesday morning as the Mid-American Conference announced their preseason poll and All-Conference teams. Buffalo was selected to win the MAC East, garnering 62 points and four first-place votes, while senior Cierra Dillard and junior Summer Hemphill were named to the All-MAC East squad.
The Bulls are coming off of a historic 2017-18 campaign which saw them record a school record 29 victories while collecting a pair of wins in the NCAA Tournament and moving onto the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. After earning an at-large bid, 11-seed, the Bulls picked up a pair of upset victories over #6 South Florida, 102-79, and #3 Florida State, 86-65. The Bulls magical run came to an end in the Sweet 16 in Albany as they were defeated by #2 South Carolina despite a huge performance from Cierra Dillard in which she netted 29 points, six assists and six steals in the loss.
The 2018-19 edition of the Bulls will have seven fresh faces that will add some athleticism and energy to a Buffalo squad that returns nine scholarship players from their Sweet 16 squad.
Buffalo received 62 points including four first-place votes while the Miami (OH) RedHawks were close behind in second place in the MAC East with 61 points and five first-place votes. In the west, the defending MAC champion Central Michigan Chippewas were the unanimous picked to win the division as they earned 72 points and all 12 first-place votes. The Toledo Rockets were tabbed to finish in second place in the west with 52 points.
The Bulls also placed a pair of the MAC East All-League squad as Dillard and Hemphill were selected as two of the best in the division for the upcoming season.
Dillard is coming off of a spectacular first season in a Buffalo uniform last season as she earned Second Team All-MAC honors and All-Tournament team honors after leading the Bulls averaging 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 steals per contest. The creative scorer finished off the NCAA Tournament averaging 29.0 points while also closing out the season with a team-best 85 three pointers and a school record 105 steals.
Hemphill is coming off of a career year during her sophomore campaign as she averaged 10.1 points, a team-high 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks while shooting a team-high 57.2% from the floor. The junior is the only returner in the NCAA to average at least 10 points, seven rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.5 blocks and shoot 57% from the floor a season ago. The Buffalo native led the Bulls in rebounding on 15 occasions while setting a division I record for rebounds in a game with 23 in the Bulls win over Ohio on February 24.
The Bulls will open up their 2018-19 campaign on Thursday night as they welcome the Bloomsburg Huskies to Alumni Arena for an exhibition game. Tip is set for 7:00 pm and the game will air live on ESPN+.
2018-19 MAC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Buffalo (4 first place votes) – 62 points
2. Miami (5) – 61
3. Ohio (3) – 57
4. Kent State – 28
5. Bowling Green – 27
6. Akron – 17
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Central Michigan (12 first place votes) – 72 points
2. Toledo – 52
3. Eastern Michigan – 41
4. Northern Illinois – 38
5. Ball State – 34
6. Western Michigan - 15
2019 MAC Regular Season Predicted Champion: Central Michigan (9), Miami (2), Ohio (1)
2019 MAC Tournament Predicted Champion: Central Michigan (8), Buffalo (3), Northern Illinois (1)
Preseason All-MAC East Division Team
Lauren Dickerson, Miami, Junior, Guard
Cierra Dillard, Buffalo, Senior, Guard
Cierra (CeCe) Hooks, Ohio, Sophomore, Guard
Summer Hemphill, Buffalo, Junior, Forward
Kendall McCoy, Miami, Senior, Guard/Forward
Preseason All-MAC West Division Team
Reyna Frost, Central Michigan, Senior, Forward
Presley Hudson, Central Michigan, Senior, Guard
Danielle Minnot, Eastern Michigan, R-Senior, Guard
Courtney Woods, Northern Illinois, Senior, Guard/Forward
Kaayla McIntyre, Toledo, Senior, Center