The University at Buffalo Royals will face the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the first round of the Mid-Continent Conference women's basketball tournament to be held at UB's Alumni Arena Thursday through Saturday.
UB enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed with a 13-5 conference record and a 21-7 overall mark. UMKC is seeded seventh with a 9-9 Mid-Con record and 11-15 overall record. The game will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night.
Other pairings include top seeded Youngstown State (17-8 overall, 14-4 Mid-Con) meeting No. 8 Western Illinois (10-16, 8-10) at 1 p.m. Thursday, No. 4 Valparaiso (16-10, 12-6) vs. No. 5 Troy State (13-13, 11-7) at 3 p.m. and No. 3 Northeastern Illinois (15-11, 12-6) vs. No. 6 Eastern Illinois (12-14, 9-9) at 5:30 p.m. Semifinals are Friday at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. with the championship game on Saturday at 3 p.m. telecast live by the Empire Sports Network.
Tickets are $5 for adults per day, $2 for those 18-and-under and $1 for all Mid-Continent institution students with proper identification. All tickets are general admission. The UB ticket office is open 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. or tickets can be charged by calling 645-6666.
The winner of the tournament receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Western Illinois is the defending champion.
n UB ANNOUNCES '96 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
A Thursday night season-opener at UB Stadium against Illinois State and rematches with three Yankee Conference powers highlight the 11-game University at Buffalo 1996 football schedule.
The Bulls, under second-year head coach Craig Cirbus, will play six home games and five away during the '96 season. The highlights include the opener on Thursday, Aug. 29 against Illinois State, rematches with Yankee Conference powers Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut and a home game against national power Youngstown State, who has won three of the last five Division I-AA national titles. In addition, the Bulls will play host to Cornell on Oct. 5 for Homecoming.
"It is obvious that we as a university are committed to arranging one of the more challenging schedules in the country at the I-AA level," said Cirbus. "It certainly will be exciting for the team and also to this community to host so many football programs that reflect the pride and long-standing traditions in college football. We look forward to all of our rematches from the Yankee Conference as well as the two teams from the Patriot League in Colgate and Lehigh. Playing Cornell as our homecoming game should be especially exciting to college football fans here in Western New York," said Cirbus.
The Bulls' opener against Illinois State, the Thursday before Labor Day weekend, is the first weekday game in the history of the school with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at UB Stadium. UB will play six teams that were also on the 1995 schedule: Illinois State (19-6 win), Connecticut (26-25 loss), Youngstown State (9-6 win), Massachusetts (33-9 loss), Hofstra (17-14 loss) and Maine (19-6 loss).
The Royals concluded their regular season with a dramatic 76-72 loss at Youngstown State on Feb. 28 in front of 1,743 fans in Youngstown, Ohio. The loss gave UB the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Mid-Continent Conference tournament at Alumni Arena. The Lady Penguins secured the top spot in the tourney with the win.
Although the Royals missed out on becoming the No. 1 seed, UB still holds home-court advantage in the tourney. "This game will help us tremendously," said Royals coach Sal Buscaglia. "We played a great ballgame in front of a very vocal crowd and in no way is this game a downer for us. The prize that we're looking for occurs next week, and that's to win the tournament (and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth)."
Junior guard Brenna Doty lit up the second half, scoring 24 of her game-high 27 points in the final 20 minutes. Doty scored 14 consecutive points, including four of her six three-pointers, for the Royals midway through the half and gave UB a four-point cushion, 60-56, with 6:35 to go. "The only thing I tell her is to keep shooting because a shooter shoots," said Buscaglia. "And she was just marvelous in the second half. That was an MVP performance."
Nicole Blakeslee scored a career-high 23 points while grabbing eight rebounds and blocking four shots for the Royals. Blakeslee returned to the starting lineup after missing the Central Connecticut State game on Feb. 24 with a sprained ankle. The sophomore connected on 9-of-12 field goals and was 5-of-7 from the free throw line.
Anne Gallagher and Charissa Gardner each pulled down nine rebounds for the Royals.
The Bulls 1995-96 season came to a dramatic end Sunday evening at the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament in Moline, Ill. UB dropped a first round matchup to Eastern Illinois 59-55 to end the year with a 13-14 record.
UB jumped out to a 30-14 halftime edge thanks to 44 percent field goal shooting while holding the Panthers to just 23 percent from the field. The Bulls went on a 15-1 run to take command early. Mike Martinho scored 10 of his game-high 18 points during the stretch including a pair of three-pointers, his only two of the evening.
In the second half, UB increased the lead to 18, 38-20, before the Panthers made their comeback. Free throws became the story of the second half as UB connected on just six of their 17 attempts (35.3 percent) while EIU was 15-of-20 (75.0 percent) from the charity stripe. EIU made 12-of-16 free throws in the final 14 minutes to rally and took the lead with 1:37 remaining when Rick Kaye hit a layup giving the Panthers a 57-55 edge. UB was held scoreless in the final 2:58 of the game as EIU scored the final seven points.
Matt Clemens, starting in place of Jamie Anderson, was the only other double figure scorer for the Bulls with 11 points. Anderson added seven points in just 10 minutes of work. Tati Hadavi led the rebounders with a career-high nine boards including five offensive rebounds while adding six points.
The Bulls placed Mike Martinho on the Mid-Continent's second-team All-Conference squad. Valparaiso's Anthony Allison was selected as the league's Player of the Year. Robert Harris and Bernard Wheeler earned All-Newcomer team recognition as Northeastern Illinois' Andrell Hoard earned Newcomer of the Year honors. Homer Drew of Valparaiso was selected as the Coach of the Year for the third straight year.
Korry Miller set a school record for the Bulls at the ECAC Championships in Gloucester, Mass. Miller placed second in the 200 backstroke finishing in 1:51.11. All-American Scooter Blanchard set the previous mark at 1:51.20 in 1992. Miller also finished second in the 100 backstroke.
The Bulls finished 11th at the meet scoring 134 points. Connecticut took the top spot with 450 points.
Justin Monin placed second in the 3-meter diving competition and seventh in the 1-meter event. Kevin Jessop was ninth in the 400 individual medley.
Royals freshman Shelly Hamilton placed sixth in the women's long jump at last weekend's ECAC Championship meet in Boston. Hamilton's jump of 5-5 3/4 earned her all-East honors at the meet.
The Bulls wrestlers were off last week preparing for this weekend's East Coast Wrestling Association meet at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. Winners and runners-up of each weight class earn berths in this month's NCAA National Tournament to be held at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn.
The UB women's volleyball team added their third recruit this week by signing 5-7 setter Somer Deschambault (Midland, Ontario/St. Theresa's). Deschambault is the first Canadian to join the Royals' program and comes to UB with a wealth of talent and experience. A three-year starter at St. Theresa's Secondary School, she led her team to the Ontario "AA" Championship Tournament in the 1994-95 season. St. Theresa's is one of the favorites to advance to this season's tournament March 6-7 in Fonthill, Ont. Unlike U.S. volleyball that is played in the fall, the volleyball season in Canada runs from November through March.
Deschambault is also a top junior player competing with one of the top Junior Club teams in Ontario, "The Toronto Solars" and has trained with the Ontario Provincial Junior team during her summers. Citing UB's strong academic atmosphere as her reason for signing with the Royals, Deschambault decided on UB over other Div. I schools including Austin Peay, Southeastern Louisiana and East Tennessee State.
Head coach Bob Maxwell expects UB to recruit heavily from Canada in the future. "There are a lot of fine programs and players in Canada," he said. "The Junior Programs are very strong and the coaching is excellent."
"Somer will bring a wealth of volleyball experience to our program," he said. "Her experiences with the Provincial program and competing with one of the top Junior Programs in Canada make her a very experienced setter...and the things that she may be able to do with our offense are unlimited."
Deschambault is third signee for the Royals, along with Christina Gianino (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills East) and Courtney Lugert (Hilton, N.Y./Hilton).
The Royals were 22-13 last season and 3-3 in the Mid-Continent Conference's Eastern Division. In his 15 seasons at UB, Maxwell has posted a career record of 364-229-8 for a .612 winning percentage. UB joins the Mid-American Conference for the 1998-99 school year.
-Ted Wasko, Sports Information Office