Previous Evening MAC Review: Smooth Roads Ahead

Even if the mascot sat in front of me all night, he wasn't obscuring any action.

Last night in MACsketball:

Akron 65, Kent State 62 — It's all about threes. A desperate-yet-makable Kent State three went in-and-out at the buzzer. This win snaps UA's three-game skid against their NE Ohio rivals. And now the Flashes have lost three straight games.

KSU was looking to pull away in the second half when they took a nine-point lead with about 12 minutes to go. And then the comeback hit a furious peak with Brett McKnight scoring seven unanswered points. Then in the final five minutes, it was the Zeke Marshall Show (check your local listings). For the Flashes, they played decent enough in the first 30 minutes, and Rodriquez Sherman finished with 19 points, but they did let one slip away on the road.

Highlights + quotes:

Bowling Green 74, Buffalo 71 (2OT) — It all started flashing back. Remember that fateful February night in 2007 when Buffalo shot free throws in the waning seconds to force overtime? Last night Buffalo shot free throws in the waning seconds in 2010 to force overtime. But the script didn't unfold like a Dakich walkout. Instead, there was a second bonus frame, but UB was playing without the fouled out Javon McCrea — who starred for them with 18 points, nine boards, and three blocks — so that made the endeavor slightly easier for the Falcons.

While it showed a load of gumption for UB to force each overtime, it was equally impressive for BG to stand firm on the road and not let extra minutes dissuade them from playing hard the rest of the game. A'uston "The Big Apostrophe" Calhoun had a team-high 20 points, and Danny McElroy had the go-ahead bucked in the second overtime, finishing with 13. Byron Mulkey had some nice numbers: 11 points and nine assists. But for the Bulls, this was the opposite type of game they're used to: they didn't shoot well, they didn't defend well, but they limited turnovers. Zuh?

Rough start for UB in conference play; this was one they should've won. For BG, it's a huge boost to their confidence, and it also gives them back-to-back road wins. In those games, they have made a total of one 3-pointer.

Ball State 75, Northern Illinois 70 — Little surprise in this one, other than Xavier Silas not even coming close to leading his team in points. A little over 1,000 fans showed up to the Convo, which is depressing but not too surprising. They probably didn't want to see the first of what'll be several MAC losses. Still, the Huskies were within elbow reach of surmounting the Cardinals' 11-point halftime advantage. They got within a couple points in the closing minutes but were unable to get a timely stop on defense.

In all fairness NIU played smart basketball. They didn't turn it over that much, and they distributed the load between Silas, Tim Toler, and Jeremy Landers, who each had between 13 and 16 shots. What did hurt, however, was free throw shooting: NIU was 10-of-18. At home. Were they distracted by empty seats?

It wasn't pretty down the stretch, but Ball State snags its first conference victory.

Eastern Michigan 71, Toledo 48 — Speaking of unpretty sights ... it might've been better if Rocky had sat in front of me all night. It'd have been less painful to watch, because Eastern Michigan was dominant in every possible manner. They had an insane 39.5 offensive rebounding percentage, to UT's 20%. But Brandon Bowdry was making shots inside and outside — at least three 3-pointers in the defender's face — while gathering second-chance opportunities from so, so many 3-point attempts (28 on the night). There was no second-half run for Toledo on this night, as they've been accustomed to doing in their home wins.

And yes, this is EMU's first Division I victory. It came in a special time (conference play), place (the road), and fashion (23-point victory). It's what we thought the Eagles would do from time to time behind Bowdry's powerful presence, but if they can keep this up and rebound like a pit bull, they'll make some noise in the division. As for the Rockets ... well, you have to hope this was an abberation, because they've backtracked from their three-game winning streak. But they might actually still be lose-at-home-by-23 bad. I'm not actually sure how Reese Holliday finished with a double-double. Might've been an optical illusion.

Tonight's Top Five:

Jarrod Jones, Ball State — 25 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Tim Toler, NIU — 22 points (4-6 3PT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Zeke Marshall, Akron — 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
Scott Thomas, BGSU — 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists
Brandon Bowdry, EMU — 19 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists

Today's Games:

2 p.m. — Miami at OHIO (TV: SportsTime Ohio, ESPN3, webcast)
2 p.m. — Central Michigan at Western Michigan

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