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.
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).
HOMETOWN: Dallas, Texas
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.”
There was a sea of UB blue in Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Saturday for the MAC Championship game.
Coach Nate Oats congratulates senior guard Wes Clark, who led the Bulls with 26 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Clark was named the MAC Tournament's Most Valuable Player.
In Boise to support freshman guard Jayvon Graves are, from left, Graves' aunt, Souleatha Calmese; his mom, Brandy Pryor; and his stepfather, Jim Ladson.
Victor E. Bull and Arizona mascot Wilbur Wildcat shake hands before a "dance-off" during a TV timeout. Victor soundly defeated Wilbur in the dance-off.
Redshirt freshman center Brock Bertram (left) and redshirt freshman forward Dominic Johnson congratulate each other.
Freshman guard Jayvon Graves gets a hug from his mother, Brandy Pryor. At right is his stepfather, Jim Ladson.
Junior guards CJ Massinburg (left) and Jeremy Harris take questions at the post-game press conference.
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.
HOMETOWN: Rochester, N.Y.
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.
The UB Bulls gather on the court prior to the start of their game against South Florida in the NCAA basketball tournament in Tallahassee, Florida, on March 17.
Junior guard Cierra Dillard (center) celebrates making a three-point shot with senior guard Stephanie Reid (left) as senior guard Katherine Ups joins in during the first half of the game against South Florida.
The Bulls hold a conference in front of their fans in the second half of the game against South Florida.
UB guard Ayolek Sodade (center) celebrates the Bulls' 102-79 victory over the South Florida Bulls in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
It's "horns up" for Coach Felisha Legette-Jack as she leaves the court after her team's 102-79 victory over the South Florida Bulls.
Junior forward Courtney Wilkins (left), who scored a career-high 23 points off the bench, and senior guard Stephanie Reid talk to the press after the game.
Coach Felisha Legette-Jack tears up during the press conference. The Bulls will take on Florida State in second-round action.
Freshman guard Hanna Hall leads the Bulls onto the court for their second-round game against Florida State.
UB forward Summer Hemphill (right) and center Cassie Oursler trap Florida State center Ama Degbeon under the basket.
UB forward Summer Hemphill (left) and guard Cierra Dillard battle Florida State center Chatrice White for a rebound.
UB guard Stephanie Reid leaves several Florida State players in her wake as she heads toward the UB basket.
UB guard Stephanie Reid (center) and the rest of the team celebrate their upset of Florida State, 86-65, on Florida State's home court.
Bulls head coach Felisha Legette-Jack (center) is surrounded by jubilant players after defeating Florida State, 86-65, on its home court.
UB guard Katherine Ups and coach Felisha Legette-Jack both wipe their eyes at mid-court after celebrating their win over Florida State.