TALLAHASSEE – The magical ride continues for the University at Buffalo.
They showed confidence and poise and locked in to that defense that has been frustrating opponents for two NCAA Tournament games.
It added up to a 86-65 win over third-seeded and 11th-ranked Florida State Monday night on the Seminoles' home court, the Tucker Civic Center.
The Bulls, making just their second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, advance to the Sweet 16. They will face defending national champion South Carolina in the Times Union Center in Albany on Saturday.
The knock out a Florida State team that had gone to three straight Sweet 16s.
From the 716: Two local players stepped up for the Bulls in the win. Senior Cassie Oursler (Grand Island) had 12 points and seven rebounds while sophomore Summer Hemphill (Cardinal O'Hara) had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
After three: Buffalo's defense allowed the Bulls to keep their lead through the third quarter, even as they missed some easy shots. A three-pointer from Katherine Ups helped the Bulls with their groove and a 4-0 run at the end of the quarter gave the Bulls a 59-45 lead.
Dicey moments: Florida State wasn't going away easy. Nausia Woolfolk hit a 3-pointer with 6:39 left in the game and Cassie Oursler picked up her fourth foul fighting in the defensive low post with 5:40 left to play. Oursler then fouled out with 3:38 to play and a 71-56 lead for the Bulls. The game then became a parade to the free throw line.
Getting an early lead: The Bulls came to run and gun. When Cierra Dillard's first two 3-pointers didn't fall, she found Cassie Oursler who knocked down her first three shots, including a short jumper that gave the Bulls an 8-6 lead with 5:43 left in the first quarter. Dillard then hit a 3-pointer and Katherine Ups nailed another from beyond the arc, forcing Florida State to take a timeout as the Bulls had jumped out to a 14-8 lead with 4:34 left in the opening quarter.
First quarter: The Bulls had a 20-16 lead after 10 minutes. The Bulls shot 64 percent from the field (9 of 14) but Florida State scored seven points off six UB turnovers.
Seminole run: Florida State opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run as the Bulls missed their first three shots. The hot shooting for the Bulls cooled as they hit just 33.3 percent in the second quarter (6 of 18). Also of note as the Seminoles went on their run was that Reid picked up her second foul with 6:01 left in the half.
Bulls run to the half: When the shots weren't falling, Buffalo got to work on defense, forced turnovers and took the ball to the basket. Summer Hemphill got a steal and hit a short jumper in transition. Dillard followed that up with a steal and a traditional three-point play with 1:06 left to give Buffalo a six-point lead. Dillard then was fouled on a 3-point shot and again got to the line, hitting five straight free throws as Buffalo took a 39-30 lead into the break.
At the half: Dillard had 15 points despite going just 1 for 6 from 3-point range. Hemphill had eight points and eight rebounds.
Double-digit lead: The Bulls started the second half on a 6-0 run and went up by 14, 46-32, on a basket from Reid with 8:05 left in the third quarter. Florida State quickly responded with its own 5-0 run.
Up next: UB will take on South Carolina, the defending national champion and the second-ranked team in the country, at this weekend's regional in Albany. South Carolina (28-6), coached by Dawn Staley, beat Virginia, 66-56, on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16.
The other regional semifinal will be between UConn and Duke.
Saturday's two regional semifinals in Albany will be played at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., according to the Times Union Center website, but which games are being played when has not yet been announced. Monday's regional final is scheduled for 7 p.m.