BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Coming into this year’s MAC tournament, the UB women are still the defending champs since a new champion was never crowned last year when the tournament was cut short because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So the Bulls are looking to win back-to-back MAC titles for the first time in program history. They’re the No. 4 seed and will take on No.5 Kent State in the quarterfinals on Wednesday in Cleveland.
And UB comes into the postseason with a little momentum after beating Bowling Green, the top team in the conference, in the regular season finale.
“I think what made it such a good game for us is not necessarily because it was Bowling Green but because of how we went after that game in the first half and how they came back and then put us on our heels and how we didn’t fall. We stumbled, we didn’t fall and that said a lot of stuff about who we are,” UB head coach Felisha Legette-Jack explained.
The Bulls won that game, 69-68 in overtime on Saturday to close out the regular season with two straight wins. So not only did they finish on a high note, but they’re also getting healthy at just the right time as senior forward Summer Hemphill is back and ready for tournament time.
“My body’s been feeling great, especially after the last two games. I’ve been feeling great physically and mentally,” Hemphill explained.
Hemphill was able to play in the last three games after being sidelined for two months with a knee injury, the same one that caused her to miss the 2019-2020 season. Hemphill will be a big key this postseason for the Bulls as well as Dyaisha Fair, as she has been all season and still remains the country’s sixth leading scorer.
“My hope is the nation gets to see how dynamic we can be moving forward,” Legette-Jack said.
The last time the Bulls won the MAC tournament was in 2019, beating Ohio in the championship game on the way a win over Rutgers in the NCAA tournament before losing to UConn. And Legette-Jack reflected on that team then to what she sees with her current group.
“I think we’re better actually talent wise, I think we’re better conditioning wise, I think we’re better now that you’ve got history behind you and so they saw it done before and so this is a better opportunity in my opinion for us,” Legette-Jack said.
Over the last five years, the Bulls are no strangers to the bright lights of March Madness. In 2016, they won the program’s first MAC title on a buzzer-beater against Central Michigan. Two years later, the Chippewas returned the favor and beat UB in the title game that year. But the Bulls received an at-large bid and made it all the way to the Sweet 16 and are looking for another deep run this time around.
“We’re hungry like we’re going there to win a MAC championship, nothing short of that so we’re definitely hungry. We’re looking forward to playing Kent State as our first opponent in this tournament,” Hemphill said.
The Bulls last loss this season came against Kent State on February 24th, 65-62.
“We know we fell to them the first time but we watch a lot of film and our coaches teach us the right plays and put us in the right places to be able to overcome that defeat and hopefully when we play them this next game we walk out with the win,” Hemphill explained.