MAC Women's Basketball Roundup: Saturday, January 4th

Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

The MAC finally began it's 2014 schedule of conference basketball games on Saturday. The CMU-Toledo game was the day's headliner, but what else happened across the league?

(Click links for box-scores.)

AKRON 87, Ball State 78

The Zips had five players score in double figures and forward Rachel Tecca had a double-double, as Akron downed Ball State by 19 in the MAC opener for both teams. The game was competitive for most of the first ten minutes, but an Anita Brown layup with 8:30 left in the half gave Akron an eight-point lead, and Ball State would never get any closer. In the second half, the Cardinals went on a 20-6 run after Akron went up by 22, but a Carly Young layup with 2:25 left restored the Zips' 10-point lead and ended Ball State's comeback hopes.

The Zips shot 50.8 percent from the floor and were 80% from the free throw line, but it could've been worse. They were just 3-for-18 from three-point range. Ball State shot just 43.1 percent for the game and only 35.5 in the second half. Tecca scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds for the Zips, while Hanna Luburgh added 18 and six. Brittany Carter scored 19 points for the Cardinals off the bench, while Nathalie Fontaine and freshman Jill Morrison added 14 each.

BOWLING GREEN 62, Buffalo 50

The number one defense in the MAC held Buffalo to 21.5 points under its season average, and the Bowling Green Falcons earned their first MAC victory of the season with a physical 62-50 win over the Bulls. Buffalo jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and was up 12-4 at the first media timeout, but the Falcons went on a 23-5 run over the next nine minutes to take a 10-point lead (27-17) of their own. Despite losing starter Mackenzie Loesing to an apparent head injury, Buffalo fought hard and kept the deficit between six and ten points well into the second half. Another 7-0 run got the Bulls within five with 7:29 left, but they could never get any closer.

Alexis Rogers dominated and ended the game with game-highs in points (22) and rebounds (17). Ten of her rebounds were on the offensive end. Jill Stein was one point shy of a double-double of her own, as she scored nine points and had 13 rebounds. She also added five assists. Erica Donovan missed the first half due to a personal issue but scored five points and had six rebounds in 13 minutes during the second half. For Buffalo, the loss of Loesing was big, as she scored eight points in just five minutes before leaving the game. Margeaux Gupilan led Bulls' players with 15 points, while Christa Baccas was held in check. Baccas was scoreless and had only three rebounds. Both teams finished the game by shooting less than 35 percent on field goal attempts. BGSU outrebounded Buffalo 51-35.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS 74, Ohio 51

The Huskies allowed a season-low in points and made over 50 percent of their shots for the first time in nearly one year as they defeated the Ohio Bobcats 74-51 on Saturday in DeKalb. The game was back-and-forth for much of the first half, and Ohio actually held a 24-23 lead late in the first 20 minutes. However, NIU led 29-27 at halftime and never looked back. Ohio was outscored 45-24 in the second half.

NIU dominated on the inside, as they won the rebounding battle 45-32 and outscored Ohio by 28-12. In fact, the Huskies attempted just one three-pointer during the game, but there was just no need for it. They shot 53.1 percent from the floor overall and were 13-for-22 (.591) in the second half. They were also 22-for-30 from the free throw line. Ohio could never get consistent shooting, as the Bobcats made just 14 field goals overall and shot just 25 percent. In the second half, they were only 6-for-28 (.214).

Five players scored in double figures for Northern Illinois, and that group was led by Danny Pulliam, who scored 17. Jazmine Harris added 15 points in 18 minutes off the bench, and Ally Lehman had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Ohio was led by Mariah Byard (17 points) and Quiera Lampkins (13 points, six rebounds).

CENTRAL MICHIGAN 84, Toledo 71

For the first 25 minutes, this game was everything it was advertised to be. There were seven ties and six lead changes, as both teams fought for a victory that each desperately needed. Unfortunately for the Rockets, they could not overcome a superb second half by CMU star Crystal Bradford. When Toledo took their biggest lead of the game, 49-43, early in the second half, the Chippewas responded with a 32-8 run over an eight minute span to run away with the game. Toledo was able to cut what became an 18-point lead down to 11, but they never got closer and ultimately lost by 13. The difference? Second-half shooting. CMU shot 55.2 percent, including 52.9 percent from long range, in the second half, while Toledo shot just 40.5 percent and was only 2-for-15 from downtown.

Bradford made just one of ten shots in the first half and had as many turnovers (two) as points, but she was relentless after halftime. In the second half, she made nine of 12 shots (including three of six three-pointers) to score 22 points. She added seven rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. Her total of 24 points and 13 rebounds led all players in both categories. Kerby Tamm added 16 points and six rebounds, while Niki DiGuilio made four three-pointers for 12 points. Toledo had three players in double-figures, led by Inma Zanoguera (21 points, nine rebounds). Andola Dortch added 17 points, while Brianna Jones posted a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds).

Eastern Michigan 88, KENT STATE 70

The Eagles continued their magical run of success during the 2013-2014 season on Saturday as they began MAC play with a big 88-70 road win at Kent State. EMU raced out to an early 14-4 lead and was never seriously challenged after that, as the Golden Flashes dropped to 3-9 overall while the Eagles improved to 11-1.

Eastern Michigan was paced by their two fantastic freshmen. Janay Morton scored 21 points and made eight of 13 field goal attempts, while Cha Sweeney was 7-for-15 from the floor, as she scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds. Desyree Thomas made a mark of her own by notching 15 points and dishing out eight assists. Like Sweeney, she brought down five rebounds. The Flashes have a good freshman of their own, and Larissa Lurken beat the Eagles for 15 points and four rebounds. Krista White led Kent State with 17 points off the bench.

Kent State outrebounded Eastern Michigan and shot better than 45 percent. However, they committed 27 turnovers, and the Eagles turned those into 26 points.

Western Michigan 88, MIAMI 78

Western Michigan jumped out to a double-digit halftime lead and held off a desperate Miami comeback, as the Broncos notched a big cross-division win on the road against Miami. The RedHawks started the game by scoring the first seven points and led for most of the first ten minutes. Even with 9:30 left in the half, the game was tied at 20. However, WMU went on a 31-17 burst to close the first 20 minutes and led by 14 at halftime. Miami cut that lead to six over the first 7:30 of the second half. Then, after a 9-0 run gave the Broncos a 15-point lead (their biggest of the game), Miami responded with a 19-7 run of their own to get within three points. Almost five minutes were left in the game, but the RedHawks missed their next four shots and never got any closer.

Western Michigan shot 53.8% during the game and featured five players who scored in double-figures. Michelle O'Brien played 30 minutes off the bench and had a double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds), and Marquisha Harris had a double-double of her own (13 points, 10 rebounds). Miracle Woods added 17 points, including seven points from the free throw line. Miami was just 5-for-20 from long range but shot 43.8 percent overall. The RedHawks were led by Hannah Robertson (18 points, nine rebounds). Both Jillian Spurlock and Kindsay Brandt came off the bench to score in double figures.

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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 1 0 11 2 at Kent St. (1/9)
Akron 1 0 7 5 vs CMU (1/9)
Buffalo 0 1 7 5 at WMU (1/7)
Ohio 0 1 5 7 vs Miami (1/9)
Miami 0 1 4 8 at Ohio (1/9)
Kent State 0 1 3 9 vs BGSU (1/9)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost
Eastern Michigan 1 0 11 1 vs Ball St. (1/9)
Northern Illinois 1 0 5 6 at Toledo (1/9)
Western Michigan 1 0 5 7 vs Buffalo (1/7)
Central Michigan 1 0 5 8 at Akron (1/9)
Toledo 0 1 5 7 vs NIU (1/9)
Ball State 0 1 5 7 at EMU (1/9)
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