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Fans proud of Bulls’ effort

Joanna Smith takes a shot against Ohio State. Smith scored 23 points in the loss to the Buckeyes. Photo: UB Athletics

By DAVID J. HILL

Published March 18, 2016

“It’s a great time to be a UB fan.”
Kaitlyn Sharkey, sister of former Bulls player and current assistant coach Kristen Sharkey

COLUMBUS — It certainly wasn’t the result they were hoping for, but UB fans are still proud as heck of the season the women’s basketball team had. The Bulls’ magical run ended Friday afternoon with an 88-69 loss to oversized Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

It was UB’s first-ever appearance in the tournament, and came less than 24 hours after the men’s team lost to Miami in a first-round NCAA tournament game in Providence, Rhode Island.

Many Bulls fans in attendance here were happy to witness this historic moment for UB. That’s why Jim Atwood, a UB chemistry professor who went to most of the women’s home games this year, attended the men’s game Thursday night in Providence, then flew out early Friday morning to catch the women’s game.

Cassie Oursler battles for a rebound. Photo: UB Athletics

“It’s great exposure for the university,” said Atwood, noting that random strangers at the airport saw that he was wearing UB gear and offered their congratulations to the men’s team on their effort against Miami.

The trip to St. John Arena on the Ohio State campus was a little shorter for UB senior Tyler Grassman and his dad, Jim, both from Columbus. “I’m on spring break and it was only a 10-minute drive for me,” said Tyler, who played football for the Bulls. “It’s exciting because we’re witnessing history. Just to be part of UB as it’s on the rise, it’s great,” he added.

Gabi Bade dribbles around Ohio State's Cait Craft. Behind Bade is Mirte Scheper (23) and Courtney Wilkins. Photo: UB Athletics

The UB pride was flowing even among the hometown crowd, many of whom complimented the UB faithful for cheering on the Bulls right up until the game’s final seconds, and to the women’s team itself for never letting up.

“It’s a great time to be a UB fan,” said Kaitlyn Sharkey, whose sister, Kristen, starred for the Bulls and is now an assistant coach on the team. “I think the girls played very tough,” Kaitlyn added.

“They made history here and they played great. It just shows the fight and the heart that this team has. They had such a great season. Being MAC champs is such a huge accomplishment for the school, and then to go to the Big Dance, it’s awesome.”