Buffalo women reach NCAAs for 2nd straight season

              Buffalo guard Cierra Dillard drives on Ohio guard Cece Hooks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball championship game of the Mid-American Conference women's tournament, Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Summer Hemphill scored 16 points and grabbed a Mid-American Conference tournament record 21 rebounds to help No. 4 seed Buffalo beat Ohio 77-61 on Saturday for an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.

Buffalo (23-9) claimed its second MAC title in four years — winning as a No. 8 seed in 2016. Last season, the Bulls fell to Central Michigan 96-91 in the championship game before winning two NCAA Tournament games against South Florida and Florida State, then falling to eventual runner-up South Carolina 79-63.

Buffalo got the best of top-seeded Central Michigan this year in the semifinals, winning 82-77. Hemphill tied a career-high with 24 points and had nine rebounds to pace the Bulls on Friday.

Cierra Dillard added 22 points with four 3-pointers and five assists for Buffalo. Hanna Hall chipped in with 17 points, hitting five 3s, and seven assists. Hemphill also had four assists, two steals and a block, and topped the previous tournament rebounding record of 19 to help Buffalo outrebound Ohio 46-29.

Dillard was named the tournament’s MVP. She had 22 points in Buffalo’s 33-point victory in the opener and 30 points with seven assists against CMU.

Courtney Wilkins made a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner just before the halftime buzzer to give Buffalo a 43-28 lead. The Bulls made nine first-half 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 13.

MAC defensive player of the year Cece Hooks scored 24 points for second-seeded Ohio (27-5). Dominique Doseck added 15 points on five 3-pointers.

Ohio was going for its first MAC title since 2015.