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The End of the Road

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CINCINNATI - In the midst of a perpetual losing streak, she refused to let her last home game end with another defeat.

Senior Shareese Ulis of the Cincinnati women's basketball team dialed up a career-best six 3-pointers on Senior Night and blocked the game-tying 3 with 11 seconds remaining for a thee-point win over Marquette on Feb 28.

With the victory Ulis left her mark on the program putting an end to a program-worst 13 consecutive losses.

Two years ago it wasn't a foregone conclusion that Ulis would don the red and black. After playing two years in Texas at Trinity Valley Community College, she decided she wanted to play for former Bearcat coach J. Kelley Hall. That's when things got complicated.

"Right in the middle of my recruiting, I had committed to UC," Ulis said. "Then I found out a couple days before I was supposed to sign that Coach J. Kelley Hall was fired."

Hall left Cincinnati with a 26-33 and 3-26 in the Big East during his three-year tenure.

The guard found herself in a limbo until May 5, 2009 when Jamelle Elliott was named head coach at UC. Elliott was an assistant Connecticut where she had won of six national titles.

"I didn't know who the coach was going to be and I kind of panicked, I didn't know what I was going to do or if I was going to be accepted to another school or not," Ulis said. "Then I found that [Elliott] was coming from UConn. I thought what great opportunity it would be to play under someone with so much experience and so many championships."

The two developed a bond that was crucial during a rebuilding phase for Cincinnati. Ulis was instrumental in Elliott's inaugural two years with the school starting every game and averaging 12.6 points. 

"[Ulis] brings a lot to the table as a leader and obviously as a player," Elliott said. "[Ulis] has made my first two years as a coach a lot easier. Just by having her on the floor, having her in the locker room."

The 5-foot-7 guard appreciated much her coach pushed her to maximize her potential.

"[Elliott] never allows you to take a day off," Ulis said. "Every second, every minute she is demanding the best out of you. She makes you do what exactly it is she wants. She will not accept anything less than your best."

The transition from the ranks of junior college to Division I was smooth for the senior but a clear change in the dynamics of the game.

"Coming into the Big East I had one role, playing point guard," Ulis said. "At Trinity Valley I played the one and the two sometimes the three."       

Prior to the Toledo native's last game at Fifth Third Arena, her fiancé walked her to midcourt as they honored her accomplishments. It was a surreal moment for the senior.

"After the ceremony I realized it was my last game at UC," Ulis said. "I don't think it was to point where I was going to cry. "It was said because I'm going to leave behind the relationships I built with [my teammates]. I was only here two years, I've grown to have a strong connection with everyone on the team."

Ulis finished No. 7 on the all-time school list for 3-pointers with 117, including one in 31-straight games to close out her career. None of them standout to Ulis more than the one she hit Feb. 13, 2010 with her team trailing by three. 

"When we played Syracuse and I hit the 3," Ulis said. "Coach Elliott came running from the other side of the bench with her hands up and then she gave me a huge hug at the end."

Ulis hit the shot with four seconds remaining to force overtime before winning the game.

In celebration of her 22nd birthday, which was the day before Senior Night, on Feb. 27, she spent time her family and fiancé to make sure she was well rested.

Ulis plans to earn a degree in Sociology after completing summer classes. She said she is considering being a graduate assistant after finishing school.

"I think I'll miss the staff at UC," Ulis said. "Everybody in the athletic building has helped me stay on track with my classes and make sure I'm taking the right classes I need to be in."

 

 

 


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