MAC Women's Basketball Weekend Roundup: February 15th-16th

Central Michigan and Akron both rolled, but Bowling Green barely escaped Ypsilanti with a victory. However, the surprise of the weekend was easily Kent State's win at Western Michigan.

(Click links for box-scores.)

CENTRAL MICHIGAN 88, Miami 47

The Central Michigan Chippewas led by just seven early in the second half before dispatching the Miami Redhawks with a 27-2 run that led to an 88-47 victory.  The loss was the second consecutive loss by 40 or more points for Miami.  CMU's Niki DiGuilio sank eight 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 24 points, and Crystal Bradford had another double-double.  Miami's Nicole Anderson led her team with nine points.

Central Michigan is now 16-8 overall and 12-0 against MAC opponents.  Their next game is on Wednesday night in Bowling Green, in a rematch of their overtime win over the Falcons in January.  Miami drops to 3-9 in the MAC and 7-16 overall.  They host Ball State on Thursday afternoon.

Click HERE for our official recap of the game.

Kent State 57, WESTERN MICHIGAN 48

The Kent State Golden Flashes won their first true road game of the 2013-2014 season and only their second MAC game with a 57-48 decision over the Western Michigan Broncos.  The game was held in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Saturday afternoon.

The game did not start well for the Flashes.  They missed their first six shots and turned the ball over twice during the first 3:45 as the Broncos built an 11-0 lead.  WMU's Miracle Woods scored seven of those f11 points.  Larissa Lurken put KSU on the board with a pair of 3-pointers, as an 8-0 run cut the lead down to 11-8.

The teams continued to trade runs as the first half progressed.  Jazmine Windham sank two from behind the arc to key a 9-1 burst that allowed WMU to regain its 11-point lead.  Kent State fought right back with an 11-1 run of their own.  Lurken keyed it with another pair of triples, as the Flashes got within 1 point (21-20) with five minutes left in the half.  However, WMU scored eight straight until an Amber Dunlap jumper with 0:08 remaining cut the Bronco halftime lead to 29-22.

The Flashes were out-shot 41.7 to 25.9 percent in the first half and largely stayed in the game due to Lurken's accuracy from long range.  She was 4-of-4 from behind the arc in the opening half and scored 12 of KSU's first 22 points.

Kent State tried to make a dent in the Western Michigan lead early in the second half, but an old-school three-point play by Alex Morton allowed WMU to have a 41-32 edge just 6:41 into the period.  Rachel Mendelsohn hit a pair of jumpers to cut the lead to five, but Jessica Jessing sank a 3-pointer just prior to the midway point (10:27) for a 44-36 edge.

WMU would not make a field goal for the remainder of the game.  Their only scoring would be four free throws, one of which gave the Broncos a 45-36 lead with 7:49 left.  Kent State continued to have trouble making shots, but they began creating opportunities from the free throw line.  In the game's final 7:02, they earned 16 attempts at the charity stripe and made 15 of those while mixing in three field goals.  WMU had no answers as the Flashes took the lead for good after a pair of free throws with 1:43 left and sank five more in the final minute to finish off the nine-point win.

The Broncos made only five of 22 field goals (22.7%) in the second half, including only two off 11 from behind the arc.  Kent State made just nine shots (also on 22 attempts), but they were 16-of-18 from the line and out-rebounded WMU 22-11 in the final period.

The teams shot nearly identical percentages for the game as a whole (32.7-32.6).  Kent State won the overall rebounding battle 40-31 and forced 21 turnovers.  Lurken did not score in the second half for KSU but still led the Flashes with 12 points.  Mikell Chinn scored eight, all from the free throw line, and Montia Johnson pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for KSU.  WMU's Miracle Woods led all players with 13 points but only six came after the game's first few minutes.

KSU is now 5-19 overall and 2-10 in the MAC.  Their next game is at home against Buffalo on Wednesday evening.  WMU drops to 9-14 overall and 5-7 in conference play.  They remain in Kalamazoo to play Wednesday night against Ohio.

Bowling Green 61, EASTERN MICHIGAN 56

The Bowling Green Falcons faced a potential trap in Ypsilanti, Mich. on Saturday afternoon, and that trap was perilously close to being sprung by the Eastern Michigan Eagles.  The Eagles gave the Falcons everything they had and led by as many as 11, but BGSU eventually held on for a 61-56 victory.

There were two distinct portions to the first half -- the first nine minutes and the last 11 minutes.

During the first portion of the half, Eastern Michigan built a 21-8 lead.  Desyree Thomas opened scoring with a 3-pointer and had seven of those first 21 points, but the offensive effort was balanced for the Eagles.  They made five of their initial seven shots and 9-of-17 overall in these first nine minutes.  Meanwhile, BGSU could get nothing going, and the Falcons connected on only three of their opening 16 attempts.

Deborah Hoekstra connected on a triple with 10:47 left in the half to cut the EMU lead to 21-11, and that woke the Falcon offense.  For the remainder of the period, they outscored the Eagles 26-8 and made 10 of their final 19 shots.  Eastern Michigan's offense disappeared, as the Eagles made just three of 15 shots during BGSU's run.  Jillian Halfhill gave the Falcons their first lead of the game (29-28) on a jumper, then sank a 3-pointer for a 34-29 lead with 34 seconds left in the half.

Eastern Michigan briefly took a 40-39 lead early in the second half, but Halfhill responded with another triple that gave BGSU the lead for good.  However, the Eagles refused to allow the Falcons to pull away and kept the deficit within two possessions.  Late in the second half, EMU forced several turnovers and was able to shrink BGSU's lead to two, but Cha Sweeney missed a chance to tie with 60 seconds left.  Alexis Rogers poured in a layup on the ensuing possession to regain control of the game, and the Falcons held on for the five-point win.

Neither team shot particularly well during the game.  BGSU was 36.5 percent overall but only 25 percent (7-of-28) from long range.  They were also an uncharacteristic 8-of-14 from the free throw line.  EMU made 33.9 percent of their shots but only 29.6 percent in the second half.  They were also poor from behind the arc (5-of-21).  The Falcons out-rebounded the Eagles 51-34, including 21-12 on the offensive end, but converted those second chances into only nine points.

Halfhill finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead all scorers.  Alexis Rogers added 13 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for Bowling Green.  The Falcons held EMU's Janay Morton and Cha Sweeney to 10 points each, but they allowed Olivia Fouty to score 15 and pull down nine rebounds.

BGSU's victory boosts their record to 21-3 overall and 11-1 in the MAC.  The East Division leaders will host the West Division leaders, Central Michigan, on Wednesday night in a rematch of the overtime thriller the two teams played in January.  EMU's record now stands at 4-8 against the MAC and 14-9 overall.  The Eagles host Toledo on Wednesday.

TOLEDO 62, Ohio 58

The Toledo Rockets survived an attempt by the Ohio Bobcats to end one of the MAC's longest futility streaks by earning a 62-58 victory on Saturday afternoon in Toledo, Ohio.  The win extends Toledo's home winning streak over Ohio to 22 straight games.  The Bobcats have not won a road game against the Rockets in 27 years.

The Rockets led for the entire first half, with the exception of three brief ties.  However, the Bobcats kept the game close, as Toledo never led by more than six points.  When the horn sounded for the halftime break, Toledo held a 28-24 advantage.

UT managed to lead despite 8-of-33 field goals (24.2%) in the first half.  They helped their cause by making 10 of 14 free throw attempts (while Ohio made only four of 11).  They also out-rebounded Ohio 26-20, including 9-2 on the offensive end.  That led to six second-chance points.  Further, the Rockets forced Ohio into 11 turnovers and allowed the Bobcats to make just 34.8 percent (8-of-23) of their own field goals.

The second half was tense and close throughout.  The half featured seven ties and eight lead exchanges, and neither team ever led by more than six.  Ohio claimed their first lead, 32-30, on a layup by Lexie Baldwin four minutes into the half.  The lead bounced back and forth until the final two minutes, when Toledo finally took control.

With 2:55 left in the game, another Baldwin layup tied the game at 55.  Both teams traded missed 3-pointers and turnovers on the next four possessions.  Janice Monakana then missed a layup for Toledo, but she pulled down her own rebound with 1:14 remaining.  Toledo called timeout, and Ana Capotosto sank a 3-pointer after the break to give UT a 58-55 lead.  Ohio had just 61 seconds left, but they used half of that on their next possession only to come away empty.

Following Quiera Lampkins' turnover with 31 seconds left, Baldwin fouled Andola Dortch, who made two free throws to give Toledo a five-point lead.  Dortch sank two more from the charity stripe in the final seconds to give Toledo the four-point win.

Both teams shot the ball much better in the second half, but the true difference in this game was at the free throw line and on the offensive glass.  Toledo earned 28 attempts from the line and made 21 of those, and Ohio converted only half of their 16 chances.  The rebounding difference was only 38-33 (11-8 on offense) for Toledo, but the Rockets had nine second-chance points, while Ohio scored none.

Toledo's attack was very balanced.  Six players scored the 62 points, and each scored at least eight points.  Dortch and Inma Zanoguera led the way with 12 points apiece.  Dortch added five assists, and Zanoguera pulled down 10 rebounds.  Mariah Byard led Ohio with 17 points.  Baldwin contributed 15 points and nine rebounds.

Toledo improves to 12-11 overall and 7-5 in conference play with the victory.  They travel to Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night.  Ohio remains in a tie for 10th place in the MAC overall standings with a 3-9 record.  They are 8-15 overall and will play next on Wednesday at Western Michigan.

Akron 87, BALL STATE 64

The Akron Zips tied a school record by earning their eight consecutive win in an 87-4 victory over the Ball State Cardinals in Muncie, Ind. on Saturday afternoon.  With the victory, the Zips maintain a two-game lead for the third seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament.

Akron dominated the game from the very start.  They jumped out to a 12-0 lead and did not allow Ball State to score until 4:49 had elapsed.  Carly Young sank a pair of 3-pointers, and Hannah Plybon drilled another to help the Zips in those first few minutes.  Ball State missed their first eight shots before Katie Murphy broke through with a jumper.

The Zips scored the next six points to increase their advantage to 18-2 after just six minutes, but the Cardinals fought back.  They held Akron to just one field goal and four total points over the following five minutes and cut the Zips' lead in half, to 22-14.  After making six of their first 10 shots, Akron missed 12 of their next 13.  However, they recovered to blitz BSU with another huge run.

This one, which extended to 20-3, lasted eight minutes and increased the Akron lead to 42-17.  While Akron was making seven of their final 10 shots, Ball State helped the run by missing nine of 10 shots and committing six turnovers.  The Cardinals managed to score five points in the final minute of the half to cut the halftime deficit to 44-22.

Ball State scored the first three points of the second half and cut the Akron lead to 19, but the Zips quickly ended whatever faint hopes of a comeback remained.  Kacie Cassell drained a jumper and then a 3-pointer to spark a 13-3 run that boosted the Zips' lead to 57-28.  That advantage would reach as many as 33 points.  BSU recovered to out-score Akron 12-6 over the game's last 3:00 to cut the final margin to 22 points.

Akron shot 47.5 percent overall and made 10 of 18 attempts from beyond the arc.  The Zips were also 19-of-24 from the free throw line.  Their defense allowed Ball State to make 32.8 percent of their shots and only four of their 20 3-pointers.  Rebounds and turnovers were rather even; Akron won the rebounding battle 43-39.  They also forced 17 turnovers compared to just 16 by BSU.

Five players scored in double figures for the Zips, and they were led by Hanna Luburgh, who scored a game-high 22 points.  Plybon ended the game with 15 points, while Cassell, Young and Rachel Tecca each had 13.  Tecca added 12 rebounds, and Cassell dished out 11 assists.  Brandy Woody led Ball State's effort with 17 points.

Akron is now 15-8 overall and 9-3 against MAC foes.  The Zips will try to win a school-record ninth straight game at home on Wednesday night against Northern Illinois.  Ball State falls to 5-7 in the MAC and 10-13 overall.  Their next game is on Thursday afternoon at Miami.

BUFFALO 66, Northern Illinois 57

The Buffalo Bulls have made a habit of playing very close games at home during the 2014 MAC schedule, and their game on Saturday afternoon against Northern Illinois was no different.  The Bulls trailed by double-digits well into the second half before roaring back for a 66-57 victory over the Huskies.

The game was close for the opening 10 minutes of the first half, but the Bulls used an 8-2 run to build an eight-point lead.  Jenna Rickan's lay-in with 8:20 left in the half made the score 24-16 in Buffalo's favor.  Unfortunately, that would be their final field goal of the half, as they would miss their last 10 attempts.  NIU went on a 16-0 run over the following six minutes to turn an eight-point deficit into a 32-24 lead.  Buffalo did make five free throws in the half's final 2:45, but NIU went to the locker room with a 34-29 edge.

Kristen Sharkey opened the second half for the Bulls with a 3-pointer, but the Huskies responded with a 14-3 run and led 48-35 with 11:44 left in the game.  Buffalo fought back with a 20-1 run of their own that lasted nearly seven minutes.  In fact, the Bulls held the Huskies without a field goal for well over nine minutes.  When Danny Pulliam finally ended the drought for NIU with a jumper, it merely pulled the Huskies to within 57-53 with 2:11 remaining.

The Bulls sealed the game by going 7-of-9 from the free throw line in the final two minutes.  The Huskies had no answers, as their offense continued to miss shots and give the ball away.  Sharkey's two free throws with 12 seconds left gave the Bulls an 11-point lead; only a basket by NIU's Jazmine Harris just before the buzzer cut the final margin to nine.

Buffalo out-shot NIU 44.7 to 33.9 percent, but the difference was even bigger in the second half (52.6-30.0).  They made only two of 16 3-pointers but were 22-of-29 from the free throw line.  In contrast, the Huskies made five of their 16 from beyond the arc but had only 12 attempts at the charity stripe.  Northern Illinois out-rebounded Buffalo 37-35, including 13-5 on offense.  However, they led only 10-8 in second-chance points.

Sharkey and Alexus Malone led Buffalo with 21 and 20 points, respectively.  Malone also had 10 rebounds.  Mackenzie Loesing was held to just eight points.  Natecia Augusta paced the Huskies' attack with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Buffalo remains in a tie for fourth place (and the final MAC Tournament bye) with Toledo.  They are now 14-9 overall and 7-5 in the MAC, and their next game is Wednesday night at Kent State.  Northern Illinois' overall record drops to 8-14, and they fall to 4-8 against the MAC.  On Wednesday night, they play at Akron.

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Now, here's a look at the updated MAC standings...


Conference Conference Overall Overall
Eastern Division Won Lost Won Lost Next Game
Bowling Green 11 1 21 3 vs CMU (2/19)
Akron 9 3 15 8 vs NIU (2/19)
Buffalo 7 5 14 9 at KSU (2/19)
Ohio 3 9 8 15 at WMU (2/19)
Miami 3 9 7 16 vs BSU (2/20)
Kent State 2 10 5 18 vs Buffalo (2/19)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost Next Game
Central Michigan 12 0 16 8 at BGSU (2/19)
Toledo
7 5 12 11 at EMU (2/19)
Ball State
5 7 10 13 at Miami (2/20)
Western Michigan
5 7 9 14 vs Ohio (2/19)
Eastern Michigan
4 8 14 9 vs Toledo (2/19)
Northern Illinois
4 8 8 14 at Akron (2/19)

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Here's how the MAC Tournament bracket would appear if the festivities began today:

ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
1st 5 Toledo vs. 12 Kent State
1st 8 Northern Illinois vs. 9 Eastern Michigan
1st 7 Western Michigan vs. 10 Ohio
1st 6 Ball State vs. 11 Miami
ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
2nd Toledo or KSU vs. NIU or EMU
2nd WMU or BSU vs. BSU or Miami
ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
QF 4 Buffalo vs. 5, 8, 9 or 12
QF 3 Akron vs. 6, 7, 10 or 11
ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
SF 1 Central Michigan vs. 4, 5, 8, 9, or 12
SF 2 Bowling Green vs. 3, 6, 7, 10 or 11
ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
Champ. SF #1 winner vs. SF #2 winner

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