No. 18 Buffalo rallies past Central Michigan into MAC final –

No. 18 Buffalo rallies past Central Michigan into MAC final -
UB men and women set to play for the MAC Championship
CLEVELAND — The excitement and the anticipation were evident for the University at Buffalo womens basketball team as they collected the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship trophy and brushed the confetti out of their hair.

The relief was obvious. Not so much the relief of earning an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, but the relief of holding off Ohio in the final six minutes of a 77-61 win in the conference championship game Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena. The Bulls (23-9) won their first MAC Tournament championship since 2016 and their second in program history.

Hooks helped Ohio pull within 65-57 with 5:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. Ohio had several opportunities to get closer, only to be denied. With four minutes left, Hall stole the ball and fed Hemphill for a layup and 67-57 lead. Hemphill and Dillard made sure the advantage did not dip into single-digits the rest of the way.

UB womens basketball wins MAC Tournament title, earns NCAA Tournament berth

Its just unbelievable to play, said UB guard Cierra Dillard, the tournaments most valuable player. It wasnt just Ohio, it wasnt just Central Michigan, it wasnt just Kent State. We just played through everything we went through this season. We went through a lot. And we stepped it up this weekend, to hold that trophy up.

The Bulls are heading back to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. @WGRZ @UBwomenshoops @CDillard24

UB led by as many as 20 points in the first three quarters, but the Bobcats cut UBs advantage to 65-57 with 5:46 remaining on Dominique Dosecks 3-pointer, her fifth of the game.

“From the starters to the bench to the coaches, every single one of us was locked in, said Hall, a sophomore from Canada. “I give glory to God and my teammates. I was confident taking the shots. The confidence comes from working hard in the gym.

But less than two minutes later, the Bulls converted off a turnover, and Summer Hemphills layup off a fastbreak opened UBs lead to 10 points.

The 18th-ranked Bulls (30-3) advance to the championship game 7:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2) against the winner of Fridays late semifinal between No. 3 seed Bowling Green and No. 7 seed Northern Illinois. Both were the only two teams to defeat UB in MAC play. It will be Buffalos fourth MAC final in the last five seasons.

MAC Tournament 2019: Buffalo beats stubborn Central Michigan, 85-81, reaches final

Dillard led the Bulls with 22 points and credited her teams ability to remain poised in a pressure situation as a reason for keeping the Bobcats (27-5) from getting any closer – a reflection, she said, of UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack.

Poor 3-point shooting by UB was not helping the Bulls cause, but it kept launching bombs. Ultimately, it was rebounding that saved Buffalo. Three straight offensive boards, all off missed 3-pointers, became layups and the Bulls took their first second-half lead, 69-68, with 8:09 to play.

The poise, and what we went through, said Dillard, who has scored in double figures in all 32 games this season. Central Michigan, they came back (in the semifinals). We had a lead and they took the lead by four. Weve got to stay poised and thats what coach prides herself on, keeping calm.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Buffalo survived a horrendous 3-point shooting night with some bodacious rebounding and clutch free-throw shooting by conference MVP CJ Massinburg to defeat Central Michigan, 85-81, in a Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

But as for the relief of earning an NCAA Tournament berth, when the Bulls were projected for so long as a low-seeded at-large team? The Bulls didnt see it that way, even as ESPN projected them as an 11 seed entering the MAC Tournament. They looked at the MAC championship and an NCAA berth as achieving the goals theyd set. The tournament pairings will be announced Monday.

Central, the No. 5 seed, was able to regroup and, after a pair of 3-pointers, the Chippewas had their first lead, 21-18. Suddenly, Buffalo was lured into a track meet, and its offensive catalyst from the quarterfinal thumping of Akron, Jeremy Harris, did not have his early scoring touch.

We stayed locked in, all season, knowing what our goals were, said UB guard Hanna Hall, who scored 17 points and had seven assists. Our goals were to be better than last year and to keep getting better.

Share Share MBB: MAC Semi Finals, Buffalo Bulls 85 Central Michigan 81 tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports It wasnt pretty but the Buffalo Bulls are moving on to the Mid American Conference finals after getting past CMU by a score of 85-81.

The Bulls set a single-game program record with 13 3-pointers, but Hemphill provided the most jaw-dropping performance. Hemphill, a junior forward, scored 16 points and 21 rebounds, and set a record for rebounds in a MAC Tournament game. Five players held the previous record of 19 rebounds in a tournament game.

A David DiLeo three point shot gave CMU a 24-21 lead with 8:26 in the first and the Chips held a lead all the way until the Montell McRea scored a tip in with 8:11 left in the second to give the Bulls a 69-68 lead.

“I was just going after every single board,” Hemphill, a Cardinal OHara graduate, said. “At this point in the season, its now or never, so I was willing to do any and everything to get every board that I needed to. Get around, box out and grab it.”

During that span Central Michigans zone flustered UB down low and the Bulls terrible three point shooting was to opposite of CMU. Rebounding is all that kept the game within reach for the Bulls.

Hemphill acknowledged that she had no idea shed set a tournament record. For a matter of perspective, Hemphill grabbed eight fewer rebounds than Ohio did as a team (29).

After McRea gave the Bulls a lead, they and CMU wend back and fourth for the final eight minutes, with Central trying the game a hand full of times, but the Bulls would not fall behind again.

She does a great job of pursuing the basketball, Ohio coach Bob Boldon. They put her in positions where she can do so, obviously, playing that bottom part of the zone, and they do play a lot of zone against us. So shes around the basket a lot, and we missed enough shots for her to gather them, thats for sure.

Video: MAC Basketball Tournament 2019: Coach Nate Oats talks about Buffalos victory over Central Michigan

CJ Massinburgs timely free throws lift UB to MAC Tournament title game

Hemphill averages 10.6 rebounds per game and has a team-best 255 this season, despite missing the first nine games due to academic ineligibility.

Just because she was ineligible doesnt mean she isnt smart, and it doesnt mean she doesnt care, it doesnt mean shes not a good player, Legette-Jack said. It just means shes going to be on the shelf for nine games.

Every day she sat out, I saw her get more and more mature. And she got better as a person. She got better as a student and had a 3.3 (grade-point average) last semester. Things that happen, that you cant control, you learn lessons from it and you grow from that, and Summer Hemphill has grown from that.

The game was a tight contest from the beginning. Central Michigan held a 42-37 lead at halftime and throughout much of the second half. Buffalo finally took the lead back, 72-70 on a Jeremy Harris three pointer with 7:46 to play in the game. Central Michigan fought back to tie the game several times, but the Bulls never trailed from that point on.

Now, Hemphill and the Bulls have blossomed at the perfect time, as the Bulls prepare for their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years.

Central Michigan had five players score in double figures: Rob Montgomery (17), Larry Austin (16), Shaun Roundtree (16), Kevin McKay (14), and David DiLeo (10). The Chippewas were 10 of 26 from the 3-point line but struggled at the free throw line making only 7 of 15 (46%).

We put ourselves in the right spot to get to the NCAAs but coming into this weekend, we had one goal, Dillard said. To walk out with a MAC championship and to walk out with (championship) hats on our heads.

Following a loss, Sue Guevara is always the type of coach who will give credit to the opposing team for how it played to land Central Michigan a defeat.

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