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O'Hara grad Summer Hemphill helps bolster Buffalo to the Sweet 16

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Felisha Legette-Jack had to put Summer Hemphill back on the court.

She couldn't take the sophomore's pestering to get back on the floor.

Hemphill was focused, confident and tenacious. This was the big stage. This was where she wanted to be.

"I love games like this and being able to have such a great impact with points and boards and I just really wanted to be on the court with my sisters," Hemphill said. "I wanted to give as much energy to my teammates as well."

Games like this are the big stage games. The games where the University at Buffalo is an underdog, the 11th seed playing third-seed and 11th-ranked Florida State on their home court in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Hemphill brought her best, scoring 17 points with 11 rebounds and two blocks playing all but one minute of the game as Buffalo upset Florida State, 86-65, in Tucker Civic Center Monday night.

"What was different about Summer is the last game," the Bulls upset over South Florida in the first round "she got into foul trouble but she never checked out," Legette-Jack said. "She's grown up. She's only a sophomore, guys. Sometimes you're going to not be as wise as the other people, but this weekend she really checked in and when her time came at the highest stage, there is nobody on the other team that would outrebound her. She was going after it every single possession. She subbed out, I had to sub her right back in because I just couldn't deal with her wanting to go back in so ferociously."

Oh yes. Hemphill wanted to be on that floor. She wanted to be an integral part of the Buffalo team that earned a trip to the Sweet 16 in just its second NCAA Tournament appearance.

"I like games like that because everyone is going to overlook Buffalo," said Hemphill, a Buffalo native and graduate of Cardinal O'Hara. "They're not really looking at us. They're looking at their next game. Being able to go out there and show them Buffalo is the real deal and completely shock them, that was a great feeling. I wanted to share every moment of that on the court with my sisters.

"We just know if we play our game we can compete with anybody in the country. We just go out there confidently, trusting each other, talking all the time and just having fun out there and staying together as one."

The Bulls' sisterhood, their ability to play as one unit, particularly on defense, led them to their key run.

Late in the second quarter, the Buffalo defense was applying its trademark pressure and taking Florida State out of its game. Hemphill got a steal, ran the floor, and pulled up for an easy jumper. That started a 10-2 run for the Bulls, who went into halftime with a 39-30 lead.

Buffalo never trailed after that.

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

"We thrive off getting steals and pressuring the other team and being able to get transition points," Hemphill said. "A lot of teams can't really deal with that. They get frustrated and don't know how to come back after that. We just try to pressure them as much as we can and score as much off our steals as we can."

Buffalo finished with 17 points off turnovers and 10 steals as a team.

The Bulls also finished it off at the free throw line, making 27 of 30 attempts. Florida State made just 16 of 22 and for the game shot just 33.8 percent from the floor.

"They played a tremendous game, tremendous two games," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. "They're extremely well-coached. They did what they needed to do and completely outplayed us. Every quarter they outplayed us. Sometimes you have games that you just can't get a rhythm and I thought that was the game for us. We have to create our own rhythm. "

The Bulls (28-5) will play defending national champion South Carolina in the Sweet 16 on Saturday in Times Union Center in Albany.

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

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