Photo: Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports

Bulls punch their ticket to Sweet 16

The UB women's basketball team defeats Florida State to make first Sweet 16 in program history

March 19, 2018 - 9:35 pm

The 11th-seeded University at Buffalo Bulls are off to their first Sweet 16 in school history after defeating the third-seeded Florida State Seminoles, 86-65. The Bulls overwhelmed the hosting Seminoles, controlling the flow of the game throughout the entire second half.

Cierra Dillard stole the show in Tallahassee, scoring 22 points and hauling in seven rebounds in what amounted to be her introductory performance to the nation. After Florida State began to clamp down on the Bulls in the first half, Dillard intercepted a pass and hustled down the floor, nailing the and-one basket that extended the Bulls lead to six. Dillard also had a game-high five assists, while only turning the ball over once.

Dillard was not the only contributor to the Bulls' dominance, as senior point guard Stephanie Reid added 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Summer Hemphill had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while also providing a crucial defensive prescence against the bigger and more athletic Seminoles.

Florida State struggled shooting the ball, shooting 23-of-68 from the field, and 3-of-25 from three-point range. Shakayla Thomas had 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, in what was an efficient night for the senior forward. Aside from Thomas, the rest of the team struggled to generate offense as the Bulls pressure forced 17 turnovers, 10 of which were steals.

Monday's win was a monumental one for the Bulls, who now have a school record 29 wins this season. After getting an at-large bid to the field, the Bulls have made their opponents pay, eliminating two teams ranked inside the AP Top-25 on their way to the first Sweet 16 in program history. Interim athletic director Kathy Twist was on hand to see the historic win, along with other U.B. athletic department personnel.

The underdog Bulls will play the defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday in Albany, NY. The Gamecocks are led by senior A'ja Wilson, who is averaging over 22 points per-game this season. The Gamecocks defeated the 10th-seeded Virginia Cavaliers 66-56 on Sunday to advance to their fifth straight Sweet 16.

Tip-off is set for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and you can catch all of the action on our sister station, ESPN 1520. The game will also be televised on ESPN.

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