Welcome Guest!
Create an Account
login email:
site searchwhere to watchcontact usabout usadvertise with ushelp
Ohio Basketball
   >> News Stories Archive
Buffalo's 3-point shooting, offensive boards carry it to MAC women's basketball title

Bobcats hope to get into NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection

Lonnie McMillan Photo
CLEVELAND – Buffalo used a barrage of first-half 3-pointers and pounded the offensive boards throughout to take a 77-61 victory against Ohio in the championship game of the Mid-American Conference women’s basketball tournament Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.

With both teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble, the Bulls clinched their spot for the second straight year while the Bobcats will sweat out the selection show Monday hoping to earn their first spot since winning the MAC in 2015.

Buffalo knocked down 9 of 17 3-pointers before halftime, building a 43-28 lead at the break, and led by Summer Hemphill’s MAC Tournament record 21-rebound performance, it finished with a 46-29 advantage on the boards. Ohio trimmed a 21-point second-half deficit to eight in the fourth quarter and had a chance to get closer but came up short.

“If they're going to shoot 50-some percent from the 3-point line, they're not going to lose; they're too good,” Ohio coach Bob Bolden said. “They do too many other things well. So if that's the case, then they're going to keep winning as long as there's games to be played. It doesn't matter if it's us or anybody else, there's not much you can do about it.”

Cece Hooks had 24 points, five rebounds and four assists to lead the Bobcats (27-5). Dominique Doseck knocked down five 3-pointers and had 15 points, while Amani Burke had 11 points but was just 1 of 6 beyond the arc. MAC Freshman of the Year Erica Johnson, who was huge in the first two tournament games, was just 1 of 10 shooting and finished with only 4 points, though she had a team-high 12 rebounds.

The MAC’s leading scorer, Cierra Dillard was held slightly below her average with 22 points, but she got plenty of help from Hemphill, who scored 16 points, and Hanna Hall, who had 14 of her 17 points in the hot-shooting first half. She added seven assists. Courtney Wilkins connected on four 3-pointers and had 12 points.

“That was pretty tough,” Hooks said. “Like we focused on Dillard a lot. … Coach Bob said 10 (Hall) and 12 (Wilkins) can shoot but we didn't think they was going to come out on fire like that.”

With the game tied at 10, Buffalo scored seven straight points to take control for good. Wilkins hit a 3-pointer, Hemphill connected on two free throws, and Hall was good on a jumper to make it 17-10. After the Bobcats cut it to 17-14, the Bulls got back-to-back 3-pointers from Dillard and Hall to take a 23-14 lead after one quarter.

A Doeseck 3-pointer made it 23-20 early in the second quarter, but Buffalo followed with a 13-0 run that included a pair of Hall 3-pointers and was capped by a Wilkins 3-pointer that made it 36-20. The Bulls beat the halftime buzzer with a Wilkins 3-pointer to take a 15-point lead at the break, and Dillard banked in a 3 to begin the second half.

“They're so good and you've got to give them something,” Boldon said. “Yeah, you've got to give Hanna Hall and Courtney Wilkins a lot of credit for making those shots. I don't know that we intended on leaving them wide open, but I think our inability to rebound the basketball, they seem to find those guys after offensive rebounds early so those are the things that kind of stick in your mind.”

Hall’s final points came on a 3-pointer early in the second half, and Dillard put Buffalo up 53-32 on a four-point play with 6:55 left in the third quarter.

Consecutive baskets by Hooks to end the third quarter and one to start the fourth quarter got the Bobcats to within 59-48. A Hooks 3-pointer made it a 10-point game, and Gabby Burris banked in a deep desperation 3-pointer after running down a loose ball at the end of the shot clock to make it a 63-54 game with 6:15 to go play.

“You've got to stay poised and that's what Coach prides herself on is keeping calm,” Dillard said. “Great teams are going to go on runs. That's what basketball is, is a game of runs. That's what we go through and you've got to take the momentum back, but amazing teams stay poised through what other teams can do. That's what we did.”

After Dillard assisted a Theresa Onwuka layup, Doseck connected from deep to make it 65-57 with 5:46 to go. Burke had a steal to give Ohio a chance to make it closer, but it could not capitalize. After a Buffalo player’s foot caused the ball to roll slowly down the court and out of bounds, the Bobcats had only seven seconds left to shoot and turned it over on a shot clock violation when a Burris 3-point try was blocked.

Wilkins missed on a 3-point attempt, but Onwuka came up with an offensive rebound. Buffalo turned it over, and Ohio gave it back on a steal by Hall, leading to a fast break layup for Hemphill to make it 67-57 with 4:00 left. Dillard and Hooks traded layup before a Dillard three-point play made it 72-59 with just 2:48 to go. Burke scored on the next possession but the Bobcats missed on their next two tries, and Buffalo got its only 3-pointer of the fourth quarter from Wilkins to ice the game at 75-61 with less than a minute to go.

The women’s NCAA tournament selection show is 7 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

“I like to think that we are (in),” Boldon said. “I think that our body of work of what we've done and where our RPI (29) was this morning, it kind of feels like we should be in the tournament. I don't know that I or anyone else fully understands what happens when they select teams, so for me to guess, it would be simply guessing."

Central Michigan, which Buffalo defeated in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament, is expected to receive at an at-large bid, so if Ohio gets in, it likely will be as a third team from the MAC, which was highly regarded the season. Both the Bulls and Chippewas reached the Sweet 16 last year. Even Miami is expected to have a shot at consideration for an at-large bid, though its odds are long after being thrashed by Ohio 74-48 in the MAC semifinals.

“I do know if we don't make the NCAA Tournament and we get invited into the NIT, that we will play and I'm certainly looking forward for an opportunity for this team to play again,” Boldon said.
"It will be against a high-level team and that will be really good for us both to close out this year and moving forward with the young kids that we have. So I guess I'm just hopeful at this point and I'll be tuning in like the rest of you Monday night and we'll see what happens.”

Dillard was named the tournament MVP. Hall, Hemphill, Hooks and Central Michigan’s Reyna Frost also were included on the all-tournament team.

Copyright ©2021 BobcatAttack.com. All rights reserved.  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use
Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties