The Buffalo Bulls, in de facto road territory in the Wichita Regional of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, were eliminated in the first round by the Tennessee Lady Volunteers in a 80-67 loss in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday night.
It was a valiant effort for the Bulls, who found themselves leading at the end of the first quarter as the 13-seed, with a 17-15 margin after the first 10 minutes. They continued to add on to the margin, getting up to 20-15 on a Georgia Wooley three-pointer with just over eight minutes to go in the second quarter. Tennessee went on a 10-2 run to take a slim lead after a Jordan Walker jumper with 6:49 remaining in the quarter, before the two teams exchanged blows to end the first half, with Tennessee holding on to a two-point margin to put the score at 32-30 in their favor.
The third quarter was much of the same, as the lead for either side didn’t get higher than five points until the 3:10 mark of the quarter, when Tennessee would break out to a seven-point lead on a Sara Puckett field goal. Buffalo still hung around, shrinking the gap to as low as five points before ultimately trailing 57-51 at quarter’s end.
It was all the Bulls had, however, as the Volunteers took control in the fourth quarter, outscoring Buffalo 23-16 in the last frame, including a 12-3 run to start the quarter to get the gap up to 18 points, ultimately coasting to a win by a final score of 80-67 to advance in the Wichita Regional.
Tennessee’s ability to get their big runs down the stretch was thanks in part to their ability to control the glass in a way Buffalo just couldn’t throughout the day, picking up 55 rebounds (including 24 on the offensive side) to Buffalo’s 38 rebounds. The Bulls made it interesting at points, however, by forcing 19 turnovers overall.
The Bulls were led by Dyaisha Fair with 25 points and five rebounds. The Volunteers’ leading scorer was Rae Burrell with 19 points. The Bulls would finish the season with a 25-9 record. They tied several school records, with 16 MAC wins and 14 wins at home.
The Lady Vols will go on to face the 23-7 Belmont Bruins in the next round of the women’s NCAA tournament.