The University at Buffalo women's basketball team was chosen to finish first in the Mid-American Conference East Division in the preseason poll released Wednesday.
UB, coming off a Sweet 16 appearance and a school-record 29 victories, earned 62 points and had four first-place votes from coaches and selected media members. That narrowly beat out Miami, which had 61 points and five first-place votes. Ohio was projected third with 57 points and three first-place votes.
The Bulls return nine scholarship players, but lose two of their top scorers in Cassie Oursler and Stephanie Reid, who also led the team in assists.
“We embrace the moment, as we’ve done for the last six years," coach Felicia Legette-Jack said. "We’re not going to go too high because we were predicted (to win), but we won’t go too low.
“It’s not about our game. It’s about our story … We really love to get after something bigger than the game. Our upperclassmen have shared with our incoming seven that we don’t go or high or low, based on people’s opinions. We stay locked in.”
Two UB players were selected to the All-MAC East preseason team.
Cierra Dillard averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 steals per contest and was named All-MAC last season. She also set a school record with 105 steals and led the team with 85 three-pointers.
As a sophomore, Summer Hemphill averaged 10.1 points, a team-high 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks. She also led the team in field goal percentage at 57.2 percent. The Buffalo native also set a Division I record with 23 rebounds against Ohio in February.
UB also received votes in the Associated Press preseason poll released Wednesday, garnering three points among the others receiving votes.
2018-19 MAC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Buffalo (4 first place votes) – 62 points
2. Miami (5) – 61
3. Ohio (3) – 57
4. Kent State – 28
5. Bowling Green – 27
6. Akron – 17
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Central Michigan (12 first place votes) – 72 points
2. Toledo – 52
3. Eastern Michigan – 41
4. Northern Illinois – 38
5. Ball State – 34
6. Western Michigan - 15
2019 MAC Regular Season Predicted Champion: Central Michigan (9), Miami (2), Ohio (1)
2019 MAC Tournament Predicted Champion: Central Michigan (8), Buffalo (3), Northern Illinois (1)
Preseason All-MAC East Division Team
Lauren Dickerson, Miami, Junior, Guard
Cierra Dillard, Buffalo, Senior, Guard
Cierra (CeCe) Hooks, Ohio, Sophomore, Guard
Summer Hemphill, Buffalo, Junior, Forward
Kendall McCoy, Miami, Senior, Guard/Forward
Preseason All-MAC West Division Team
Reyna Frost, Central Michigan, Senior, Forward
Presley Hudson, Central Michigan, Senior, Guard
Danielle Minnot, Eastern Michigan, R-Senior, Guard
Courtney Woods, Northern Illinois, Senior, Guard/Forward
Kaayla McIntyre, Toledo, Senior, Center