Sunday MAC Review: Workin' Overtime

Last night in crazypants MACsketball:

Miami 92, OHIO 88 (3OT) — A remarkable game. It almost makes you wonder why more basketball matches aren't 55 minutes long. Perhaps because then I'd lose the only bargaining chip I'll ever have to bring my girlfriend to games: "c'mon, they only last two hours." And then you have such events where they just keep playing more basketball until one team chooses to stop, or a team runs out of useful players thanks to fouling out. And then you're getting the ol' tug on the shirt.

The Bobcats were already down two starters (DeVaughn Washington, Reggie Keely) in regulation, and then T.J. Hall picked up No. 5 in the second OT frame, as did Miami's Nick Winbush, ending with 19 points and nine boards. It appears that OHIO began to tire with the rest of their rotation, because in the third overtime Miami sealed the deal with 10 made free throws and a single 3-pointer by Antonio Ballard, which was lauded as the dagger. Then again it did come with 0:29 left in the game. Ballard, the senior, had a career-best 26 points and also brought home 12 boards.

That was another storyline: MU destroyed the Bobcats on the glass, especially while on the offensive, snatching 42% of ORs. And Julian Mavunga needs to be mentioned. Although his 15/8 pale in comparison to some other people's huge numbers, he and Ballard played all 55 minutes. Respect.

In the losing effort, D.J. Cooper brought proper force with the point guard's double-double (27 points, 11 assists), but woe, took 22 shots. He sank a bunch of free throws but, hell, Tommy Freeman was able to scrape together 17 points on just seven shots. The MVP of the game, though, was the OHIO fans: they made a case for this being the marquee matchup by packing the Convocation Center with nearly 10,000 fans.

And yes, Charlie Coles did speak after the game. It's always a necessary watch, as would be his 15-minute national TV show about who's the best.

Western Michigan 63, Central Michigan 56 (OT) — Also known as "the boring overtime thriller." Because there is such a thing, when compared to triple-overtime anarchy. The hapless Chippewas finished regulation on a 7-0 run, capped by Trey Zeigler's running layup with a couple seconds left to force five more miutes. Young Trey scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half to help the comeback where WMU was up a mere four points at halftime.

But in the OT frame, Demetrius Ward took over. He scored 9 of the team's 11 points in overtime, finishing with 21 points and making 12-of-14 free throws. Matt Stainbrook also had a generous 12 rebounds. His butt appears to be in great shape.

It wasn't a great night for CMU's Jalin Thomas, who went 3-for-18 shooting, and only five assists were recorded for the Chips, but the basket looked small for everyone. Combined, the numbers were: 33% field goals, 12% 3-pointers, 68% free throws. Yeck. Consider this win ground out by the Broncos, who for some reason wore their black uniforms at home. Confused the heck out of me the first time I saw it. Why did nobody cheer when that man in the white jersey just sank a three?

So right now we exist in a universe where WMU is dubbed the spiffiest MAC team in Michigan ... for now. Someone different is stepping up every night. Sometimes it's Juwan Jr, and sometimes it's Flenard. Are they second best in the West? Maybe better? We'll see.

Today's Top Five

Demetrius Ward, WMU — 21 points, 6 rebounds
Antonio Ballard, Miami — 26 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists
D.J. Cooper, OHIO — 27 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
Nick Winbush, Miami — 19 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Trey Zeigler, CMU — 22 points, 6 rebounds

No games tonight. Can you wait until Tuesday?

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