Buffalo Women's Basketball Returns Home from European Tour

Updated 8/29/2000
BUFFALO, NY (August 29, 2000) -- The University at Buffalo women's basketball team returned home to the United States on Wednesday, August 16 following a successful 10-day European tour during which they posted a 3-1 record playing against teams made up of club, university and professional players in Spain and France. Not one of the nine returning Bulls was disappointed about the early end to summer as five days of double-practice sessions were gladly exchanged for the chance to travel abroad and experience another country, both on and off the basketball court.

"It was a tremendous experience from both a basketball and a cultural standpoint," commented third-year head coach Cheryl Dozier. "The World Sports Exchange should be commended for their great work; they put together a wonderful trip for our group. We also have to thank the UB administration for allowing us to take a trip like this. We were able to include many boosters, parents and support staff, and it was a great experience for everyone."

The Bulls arrived in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday, August 6, and after just one day of rest, they earned two wins in three games over the next three days. Seniors Mari McClure (Rochester Hills, MI/Rochester Adams) and Sonia Ortega (Chihuahua, Mexico/Cobach) led the Buffalo attack against CB Malgrat in their tour opener, scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively. The Bulls opened up a 27-0 lead to start the game, and they ran away with a 75-38 victory. Senior Tiffany Bell (Alexandria, VA/Hayfield) netted 12 points and grabbed six rebounds, while sophomore Rachel Martin (Kenmore, NY/Kenmore West) added 10 points and eight boards. The Bulls' only loss of the trip came in their second game against the University of Barcelona, a team consisting entirely of professional players. Sophomore Colleen Tabor (Ballston Lake, NY/Shenendehowa) led the team with 18 points and five rebounds, and McClure and Bell also scored in double-figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Buffalo held a 62-60 lead with 1:39 remaining in the game before the University of Barcelona battled back for a 69-63 win.

The Bulls quickly rebounded with a 63-61 win over the University of Valencia the next day behind a 14-point performance from sophomore Katie Blazewski (Plymouth, MI/Detroit Country Day). McClure finished with 13 points, while Bell added 11 and Ortega and senior Tara Perrier (Aurora, Ontario/Aurora) chipped in 10 apiece.

Following their second win, the Bulls embarked on an overnight train to Paris, France where they finished their tour with an 81-38 win over Avenir de Rennes on Tuesday, August 15. Ortega scored a game-high 24 points, nine rebounds and six steals, and Bell added 20 points, four rebounds and three steals. Tabor dished out nine assists to contribute to the win.

Ortega, Bell and McClure each averaged 13.3 points per game during the trip, and Bell and McClure scored in double-figures in every game. Playing these exhibition games also gave Dozier the opportunity to give playing time to every member of the team, and she expects the younger players especially to benefit from their experience.

"This trip was a great way to check the progress the athletes made over the summer, and there were some very bright spots," said Dozier. "Rachel Martin, a sophomore walk-on, especially played very well. She really came into her own."

The Bulls adjusted well to the European style of play which is much more fast-paced with shorter stoppages in play. They played with either a 24-second shot clock or a 30-second shot clock, with a larger basketball and in quarters instead of halves. The opposition ranged in age from 15 to 33 years old.

"I'm proud of how the team handled the differences," said Dozier. "They were put in situations that will help make them stronger once the season starts. We had an opportunity to see a lot of different offenses and defenses, and we tried different lineups and combinations on the floor.

"Being together for 10 days was also a great bonding experience and a great way to learn to understand and tolerate each other. That will definitely help us during the season."

The Bulls open the 2000-01 season on Friday, November 17 when they play host to the University of North Carolina at 7 pm at Alumni Arena.