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Leading the Charge

UB’s basketball teams brought national attention to Buffalo with superb seasons

CJ Massinburg during a game at Alumni Arena against Kent State

Massive attack: Bulls guard CJ Massinburg takes the rock to the rim at Alumni Arena. Photo: Paul Hokanson

By David J. Hill

The electricity was palpable inside Alumni Arena this winter as the UB men’s and women’s basketball teams posted record-setting seasons, generating some pulse-pounding MACtion.

As of press time, both teams were the hottest in the MAC heading into their respective conference tournaments. Felisha Legette-Jack’s women’s team was eyeing its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three years, while Nate Oats’ men’s team was poised to advance to the Big Dance for the third time in four years.

The arena buzzed with excitement as fans filled the stands to check out two of the area’s best college basketball teams. But the Bulls’ success also garnered attention around the country. For the first time in Legette-Jack’s tenure at UB, the Bulls received votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projected UB to be a 13-seed in the men’s tourney.

Here's a look at one impact player from each squad, along with a few regular-season highlights.

Men’s Highlights:

Nov. 29: Buffalo ties a school record for points in a road game with a 106-87 victory over Big 4 rival Niagara. It’s also the first time in UB’s Division I history that three players score more than 20 points in the same game.

Dec. 28: Senior Wes Clark, who transferred to UB from Missouri, leads the Bulls with 27 points as UB closes out its nonconference schedule with an 86-81 overtime win over New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Jan. 16: Junior Nick Perkins pours in 26 points and UB cruises past Northern Illinois, 95-67. The win marks the first time the Bulls begin 5-0 in the MAC and ties their best-ever start to conference play; UB went 5-0 in 1997-98, when it was a member of the Mid-Continent Conference.

Feb. 27: The Bulls overpower Akron with an 80-68 victory, clinching the top seed in the MAC Tournament for the first time in program history. It was also the Bulls’ 14th conference win, a new program record. The “W” earns UB a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament and an automatic NIT bid if they don’t make the NCAAs.

March 3: The Bulls claim their first outright MAC regular-season title after beating Bowling Green, 100-70. The win ties the school record for regular-season victories (23).

Men's Player Profile

CJ Massinburg

CJ MASSINBURG

HEIGHT: 6-3
YEAR: Junior
HOMETOWN: Dallas, Texas
POSITION: Guard
MAJOR: Sociology

Amassin’ Points: Massinburg, a scoring machine for the Bulls, became the 20th player in UB history—and seventh fastest—to reach 1,000 career points. National media took notice of the All-MAC guard’s explosive output, with CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein tweeting that “Nate Oats and Buffalo have a stud in CJ Massinburg.”

MAC Championship game

Photos: Paul Hokanson

NCAA Tournament First-Round Game vs. Arizona

Photos: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Women’s Highlights:

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UB's Felisha Legette-Jack is leading Buffalo women's basketball on and off the court.

Nov. 24: UB clobbers ACC member Clemson, 61-41, in the San Juan Shootout in Daytona Beach, Fla. With the win, the Bulls start the season 4-0 for the third straight year.

Dec. 30: Felisha Legette- Jack notches her 100th career victory as head coach at UB when the Bulls open MAC play with an 89-66 victory over Akron.

Jan. 20: Senior Stephanie Reid surpasses Catherine Jacobs as UB’s all-time leader in career assists as the Bulls defeat defending MAC champion Toledo, 87-69.

Feb. 24: Sophomore Summer Hemphill sets a UB Division I record by snagging 23 rebounds in a 70-53 win over Ohio.

March 3: The Bulls blast Bowling Green, 74-38, to cap a regular season in which they set program records for MAC (16) and overall (25) wins, and earn the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.

Women's Player Profile

Cierra Dillard

CIERRA DILLARD

HEIGHT: 5-9
YEAR: Junior
HOMETOWN: Rochester, N.Y.
POSITION: Guard
MAJOR: Communication

Dilly Dilly: A transfer from the University of Massachusetts, Dillard made an immediate impact in her first season with the Bulls. She led the team with 14.5 points per game and finished second in the MAC in steals, averaging nearly 3 per game. Dillard put up a career-best 30 points in UB’s regular-season win over defending MAC champion Toledo.

NCAA Tournament First-Round Game vs. South Florida

Photos: Mark Wallheiser

NCAA Tournament Second-Round Game vs. Florida State

Photos: Mark Wallheiser