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Sweet 16-bound UB women hungry for more

The Elons and Belmonts have vanished. Gone are the Mercers and Florida Gulf Coasts and Northern Colorados. The Drakes and North Carolina A&Ts are dial tones.

Peruse the NCAA Tournament bracket and mostly you'll find women's seeds you would expect. So much chaff has been whisked away.

Yet the University at Buffalo remains among the tall stalks, a Sweet 16 entrant that has surprised everyone but those in its locker room.

"I've always had my vision on the biggest prize, the last team standing," UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack said of her approach throughout her career. "We want to win the national championship wherever we are."

UB will play the defending national champion, second-seeded South Carolina, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Albany.

The winner will advance to play undefeated UConn or Duke.

"We just want to keep this story going as long as we possibly can," senior point guard Stephanie Reid said. "It's taken us to the Sweet 16, and we're not done. We don't want this to end."

UB and MAC champion Central Michigan, each a No. 11 seed, are the most taken-for-granted teams left in the bracket by far. Next closest is No. 6 Oregon State.

All but five of the Sweet 16 schools are seeded no worse than No. 4.

"We know when we play our best it's hard for any team in the country to compete with us," Reid said. "We've proved that now in two stages, and we're getting the opportunity to show it again in a third."

UB is here after convincing victories over two other teams they weren't supposed to beat. And UB did it on their turf, 102-79 over sixth-seeded South Florida and 86-65 over third-seeded Florida State on the latter's home court in Tallahassee, Fla.

UB women's notebook: Stephanie Reid heaps praise on Cierra Dillard

The Bulls floated back to Western New York.

"We got home at 4 a.m., and I just had to wake up again to make sure it was real," junior guard Cierra Dillard said. "It felt amazing."

The farther a team advances, especially one without the pedigree of UConn, Baylor, Notre Dame or South Carolina, the national media will peg an identity for the team based on cursory research.

Legette-Jack was asked how she would describe her team.

"Passion. Defense. If you take it from us, we're going to come back and get it from you," Legette-Jack replied. "We don't think that we're ever out of a game. We could be down 20; we're going to come at you because it's not about the team that we're playing. It's about our story.

"It's about our sisterhood. It's about our foxhole, and we refuse to let each other down until the last horn sounds. When you play against Buffalo, you're going to remember Buffalo."

From 'broken coach' to Sweet 16, Felisha Legette-Jack has Buffalo on the map

South Carolina forward A'ja Wilson is a frontrunner national player of the year. She's 6 foot 5 and averages 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.

"If we focus on them having the player of the year or they're the national champions, I mean, that's just going to kill us before we go in," Reid said. "We just need to take care of us.

"When we take care of our business, there's no team that can stop us. We believe that. We've upset teams with that mentality. It's 40 minutes, and anyone can have their 40 minutes."

Reid noted UB has grown more from its defeats than its victories this season. The Dec. 2 loss to Arizona State sticks out. But the Bulls  (28-5) never lost two in a row.

"We want to play any and everybody,"Legette-Jack said, "not because we're boasting we're so good, but we want to find out how good we are. We want to be measured against the best in the country.

"This is exciting to go against a team that won the national championship. Is it something to be afraid of? We're too silly and quirky to be afraid. We just want to find out. We want our story to be on the biggest stage that presents itself for us."

UB to the Sweet 16: University at Buffalo women knock off Florida State, 86-65

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