MAC Women's Basketball Review: Curt Miller, Still The Best

Notes from a mostly predictable day in women's MACsketball on the first afternoon of interdivisional play:

BOWLING GREEN 70, EASTERN MICHIGAN 54 — The game of the day, as evidenced by all the television cameras, turned out to be more of a rout. And if Curt Miller isn't the best human asset in Bowling Green athletics, I'm not sure who is. He's basically on the third iteration of this excellent program's identity and they are playing as if Kate Achter is passing it to Ali Mann and Liz Honegger. Only replace Achter with the gutty Jessica Slagle (eight points, six assists, six rebounds, three steals), Mann with the überproductive Alexis Rogers (30 points, nine rebound) and Chrissy Steffen as Honegger-type sharpshooter, sans her frame (11 points).

And this team remains the most powerful despite losing four of their top five scorers to graduation. It's not just Lauren Prochaska, one of BG's best. They also are without Tracy Pontius, Jen Uhl and Maggie Hennegan. That's 48.2 points a game, 20.2 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 4.3 steals and crucial members of the 45th best defense in the country (0.811 points per shot against) that they had to work into Miller's system with new regulars. I expected one season of hurt. Nope. They reloaded.

For Eastern Michigan, Tavelyn James got her points (29 in all) but the rest of her teammates were 8-of-34 from the field ... all on two-pointers.

So EMU falls to 4-2 in a tie for first in the MAC West while BGSU remains unblemished at 6-0. They'll falter at some point but for right now they're playing like the favorites ... again. And we doubted them.

MIAMI 82, WESTERN MICHIGAN 67 — And just like that, the RedHawks get back on the scoring path. Courtney Osborn scored a day-best 34 points (including 6-for-7 on threes) while also doling out a game-best eight assists. 21 of her points came in the first half, and the team led by 20 at halftime. Yeah, that was basically the difference. Even WMU's 15 steals weren't enough for them to keep pace, nor was it enough to have one hot shooter on the court: freshman Julia Henson, who went 6-for-10 on threes to finish with a team-best 18 points.

TOLEDO 52, OHIO 33 — I know what you're thinking, and yes. Defense! 33 points is the lowest for a MAC (in-conference) game since NIU netted only 31 on January 12, 2011 against ... yep, the Rockets. The halftime lead was a 20-13 UT advantage and with that kind of shooting, there was not way the Bobcats were going to come back against this deep team. Yolanda Richardson had 18 points (on 9-for-11 shooting) and 15 rebounds, who basically made the difference on the scoreboard and rebounding margin (41-to-27). OU suffered a rough 25.9 eFG% with freshman Mariah Byard getting a team-best nine points.

KENT STATE 67, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 64 — There aren't many wild surprises at the top of the standings, but if you go all the way down to the list of 3-3 teams you'll see Kent State and notice that they went 1-9 in the nonconference. This is quite something to see, certainly one of Bob Lindsay's more frustrating seasons to coach but this is going better than advertised.

The Pacemonsters of Mount Pleasant weren't able to run up and down as much as they'd like to, and Kent State simply overpowered them, going up by as many as 14 points with eight minutes to play. CMU whittled the lead down to two points with 16 seconds to play but were in "get a turnover or hope for missed free throws" mode and didn't even attempt a three at the buzzer — instead they went for a layup and missed. Diamon Beckford led KSU with 21 points and six rebounds. For CMU, Niki DiGuilio hit 22 points, powered by 5-for-10 shooting on threes. Both teams are now 3-3.

AKRON 78, BALL STATE 70 — And the Zips crawl to the 3-3 mark with a decisive road victory over the reeling Cardinals. UA had a double-digit lead for much of the second half and barely gave up. They salted this game away with an amazing 27-for-30 mark on free throws. That's an A-minus! Hanna Luburgh, Sina King and Natasha Williams combined for 45 points and a perfect 17-for-17 on freebies. Brandy Woody gave the Cardinals 17 points but couldn't stop them from falling to 2-4.

BUFFALO 62, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 46 — There, everybody has a win in the MAC. Ya knew it would come on a torrid Brittany Hedderson shooting day, and sure enough there it was. She finished with 29 points and eight rebounds, while Beth Christensen pulled down 16 rebounds. Claire Jakubicek had 16 points for the Huskies but on the whole the team shot poorly and as a result both teams are now 1-5.

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