Reid: “We’re going to keep fighting as long a we can”

College
Stephanie Reid, Cierra Dillard_560446

Buffalo’s Stephanie Reid, left, and Cierra Dillard celebrate after defeating Florida State in the second-round game of the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament Monday, March 19, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Arriving in the early morning hours on Tuesday following their historic win over Florida State to advance to the program’s first Sweet 16, there was still plenty of celebration and little time for the sleep for the UB women’s basketball team.

“We got home at 4 a.m. and I had to wake up again to make sure it was real,” joked junior guard Cierra Dillard.  “It felt amazing.”

“I didn’t check my phone until after we got back because it was so overwhelming the support from Buffalo fans,” senior Stephanie Reid said Tuesday.  “Everyone is getting behind us.  There are people messaging me about how they’ve haven’t watched our team yet but they’re inspired. And that’s what we want to do.”

The Bulls have been tested all-season, first in non-conference play against Power Five programs like Nebraska, Arizona State and Clemson, and then again against South Florida and Florida State in the NCAA Tournament.  They’re 4-1 in those contests, including their wins over USF and FSU in the Big Dance.

Saturday in Albany they’ll get another crack at making history when they face off the defending national champions from South Carolina.

“This is exciting to go up against the team that won the national championship. Is it something to be afraid of? We’re too silly and quirky to be afraid,” head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said.  “We want just to find out. We want our story to be on the biggest stage. And if the biggest team and the biggest stage presents itself, we go forward.”

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Through passion and defense the Bulls scored a record setting 102 points in the First Round against South Florida — the most ever scored by a double-digit seed in NCAA Tournament history.  The 11th seeded Bulls then knocked off national power Florida State — on it’s home court — ending a 59-game winning streak the Seminoles had against Mid-Majors.

“You take it from us, we’re going to take it from you,” Legette-Jack said of her team’s identity. “We don’t ever think we’re out of a game. You can be up by 20 and we’re going to come match you.

“It’s not about the other team. It’s about our story, our sisterhood and our foxhole. We refuse to let each other down until the last horn sounds. When you play Buffalo, you’ll remember Buffalo. We may not win the game, we may not win the series – but the team you’ll remember the most is the team called Buffalo.”

With back-to-back impressive wins on the national stage, the entire country now knows what Buffalo basketball is all about.  It didn’t happen by accident, either. Under Legette-Jack the women’s program has emerged as one of the top Mid-Majors in the country.

After taking over a program that had won just nine games the year prior to her arrival in Amherst, the Bulls have improved their win total every year in her six years at the helm.

There were 12 wins in her first year during the 2012-2013 season, 17 the year after and 19 in 2014 which led the UB’s first appearance in the postseason with a berth in the WNIT.

The following season — more firsts.  A 20-win campaign, a Mid-American Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.  UB then won 22 games a year ago, before amassing a program record 29, earning an at-large bid, winning two games in the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the Sweet 16 this year.

Reid has been apart of the journey since 2014 and wanted to join Legette-Jack in Buffalo to be a part of the culture change with the program.

“Coming in with the five seniors that we have, and we came in day one saying we want to leave this place better than when we came here,” the Australian native said.  “We’ve done that. It’s a sisterhood. On and off the court you can see our chemistry. It’s a family and it’s contributed to a lot to our success and we’re a team closer than any team I’ve been on before. That’s something we take a lot of pride in.”

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“I saw it from afar,” junior guard Cierra Dillard said.  She transferred to UB two years ago after starring at UMASS, but sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

“I saw the players (Legette-Jack) had in the program,” continued Dillard.  “Knowing my situation I knew it wanted to be a part of it. When I saw it up close, it over took me. What they laid down as a foundation — those five seniors — I wanted to be a part of it.”

“I think the way this team has been constructed, it’s a masterpiece,” said Reid.  “We’re not done. We don’t want to this to end.  We don’t want that to come to an end anytime soon and we’re going to keep fighting as long as we can.”

 

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