MAC Women's Basketball Mid-Week Roundup: February 19th-20th

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Bowling Green evened the score against Central Michigan and set up a potential coin flip for the #1 seed in the MAC tournament. Elsewhere, Buffalo, Akron and Toledo all picked up key wins.

(Click links for box-scores.)

BOWLING GREEN 67, Central Michigan 55

The Bowling Green Falcons exacted a measure of revenge with a 67-55 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio on Wednesday night.  The loss was the first one of the conference season for CMU, and it allows BGSU to move into a tie for first place in the overall MAC standings.

Both teams are now 12-1 in conference play with five games remaining.  If they win the remainder of their games, the tie for the top seed in the MAC tournament would be broken by a coin flip.

Jillian Halfhill led all scorers with 18 points for BGSU.  Crystal Bradford (14 points, 14 rebounds) had another double-double for CMU.  The Chippewas' 55 points is a season low.  Their previous low for points in a game was 63.

Click HERE for our complete recap of the game.

AKRON 89, Northern Illinois 75

The Akron Zips set a school record with their 89-75 victory over the Northern Illinois Huskies in Akron, Ohio on Wednesday night.  The victory was their ninth win in a row, a streak matched by no Zips team in school history.

The game provided little drama after the first 10 minutes.  Akron built a quick 12-2 lead within three minutes, and that effort was led by nine combined points from Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh.  NIU was able to stay within 10 until the score reached 22-12, then Alexis Lindstrom keyed a 7-0 run with a jumper and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions.

Akron's Carly Young sank a triple to help Akron regain their balance, but their lead was still just six (33-27) with 4:34 left in the half.  The Zips then put the game out of reach with a 13-0 run, which was led by six points from Tecca.  The burst gave them a 46-27 lead, and they eventually led 48-30 at halftime.

The Zips shot 52.9 percent in the first half and pulled down eight offensive rebounds that led to 12 second-chance points.  Tecca (18) and Luburgh (11) combined for 29 of Akron's 48 points.  They also combined for 11 of the Zips' 20 rebounds.

Tecca scored another six points in the first 2:04 after halftime, and the Zips ended whatever drama remained by going on a 13-3 run to start the half.  That pushed their advantage to 61-33, and their lead reached a game-high 30 points (74-44) on another score by Tecca at the midpoint of the period.

Akron still led by 27 (84-57) with 5:00 left, but the Huskies went on an 18-5 garbage-time run to cut the final deficit to 14 points.

Both teams shot very well during the game.  Akron ended the contest with a 49.3 shooting percentage, and NIU actually finished at 53.6 percent.  NIU's figure included a 58.6 percent performance in the second half.  The Zips held a 37-29 edge in rebounds, including 14-6 on the offensive end.  That led to a 20-6 advantage in second-chance points.  They also turned the ball over just seven times.

Tecca and Luburgh continued their torrid pace for Akron.  Tecca, one of the 10 best scorers in NCAA Division I, exploded for 36 points (and nine rebounds).  She was 12-of-20 from the floor and converted 12 free throws.  Luburgh added 17 points and 10 rebounds.  Carly Young scored 10 points off the bench.  NIU had four players who scored in double figures.  Corral finished with 21 points to lead the Huskies.  Ally Lehman scored 14, all of which came in the second half on 7-of-7 shooting.  Lindstrom (11) and Danny Pulliam (10) also scored in double figures.

Akron is now 16-8 overall and 10-3 in MAC play.  They hold a two-game lead over Buffalo and Toledo for the 3rd seed in the MAC tournament but trail Bowling Green and Central Michigan by two games for 1st.  They return to the court on Saturday at Ohio.  Northern Illinois is 8-15 overall and 4-9 against MAC foes.  Their next game is on Saturday at home against Central Michigan.

Buffalo 61, KENT STATE 53

The Buffalo Bulls survived a late charge to earn a 61-53 road victory against the Kent State Golden Flashes on Wednesday night in Kent, Ohio.  The win allows Buffalo to keep pace with Toledo in the race for the 4th seed and final bye into the quarterfinals of the MAC tournament.

The game was even in the early minutes, and the score stood at a 7-7 tie with 3:37 elapsed.  However, Buffalo picked KSU's pocket for three turnovers over the next four minutes, and that helped spark an 11-0 run for the Bulls.

The Flashes prevented the Bulls from building the lead further for a brief period, but three more turnovers later in the half helped Buffalo go on a 6-0 mini-run.  That gave them a game-high 14 point lead (32-18) with 4:56 remaining in the period.

Kent State fought back with a 9-0 run of their own to pull within 32-27, but Mackenzie Loesing made two shots within the final minute (including a 3-pointer) to give Buffalo a 37-27 halftime edge.

In the second half, the Flashes averaged nearly a turnover per minute, but Buffalo could get no offense going until very late in the period.  In fact, the Bulls scored only eight points in the first 15 minutes of the half, and that included only two field goals.  The Bulls went over nine minutes without a single conversion from the floor and missed 10 straight shots at one point.

KSU managed to put together 21 points despite giving away 13 turnovers while Buffalo was suffering on offense.  That gave the Flashes their first lead of the game, and KSU had a 48-45 edge with 4:25 to play.

Somehow, Buffalo flipped the light on and erupted for a 14-2 run that gave them a 59-50 lead with just 36 seconds left.  They made all four of their shots from the floor and converted six straight free throws during the stretch.  Meanwhile, KSU missed all three of their shots and committed the final three of their 29 turnovers.

Rachel Mendelsohn hit an "and-one" jumper to cut the deficit to six, but with 14 seconds left, it was too late.  Two more Buffalo free throws provided the final 61-53 margin.

Buffalo shot just 28.6 percent (6-of-21) in the second half and missed all five 3-pointers, and KSU shot 45.5 percent.  However, the Bulls forced 16 turnovers and made 12 of 13 free throws to preserve the win.

Overall, Kent State out-shot Buffalo 40.8-36.8 and out-rebounded them by 13 (40-27).  Unfortunately, they committed 29 turnovers, and the 27 points that Buffalo scored as a result killed the Flashes' chances to win the game.

Mackenzie Loesing led all scorers with 15 points for Buffalo.  Alexus Malone added 12 for the Bulls.  KSU was paced by Larissa Lurken's 14 points.  Lurken was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.

The Bulls are now 8-5 in the MAC and 15-9 overall.  Their next game is on Saturday at home against Bowling Green.  Buffalo trails BGSU by four games with five to play in the Eastern Division, so a division title isn't really at stake.  However, the game will be very important in the chase for that final tournament bye.  Kent State remains in last place overall in the MAC with a 2-11 conference record.  They are 5-19 overall and host Miami on Sunday.

Toledo 80, EASTERN MICHIGAN 73

The game came down to the final seconds, but Toledo converted 12 free throws in the final minute to preserve an 80-73 victory over the Eastern Michigan Eagles.  The game was held in Ypsilanti, Mich. on Wednesday night.

Toledo scored the game's first eight points as the Eagles struggled out of the gate on offense.  EMU missed their first six shots and committed two early turnovers while Andola Dortch and Janelle Reed-Lewis sank a pair of 3-pointers for the Rockets.

Cha Sweeney finally broke through for EMU with a 3-pointer at the 4:40 mark of the first half, and that spurred the Eagles to seven straight points.  Toledo went over six minutes without a field goal, as they missed six straight shots and turned the ball over four times.  With 12:00 left in the half, the score was 8-7, and neither team would lead by more than two possessions for the remainder of the half.

EMU took their first lead of the game with 3:30 remaining in the half when Desyree Thomas split a pair of free throws.  However, UT regained a 26-25 lead on a Brianna Jones layup one minute later.  Ana Capotosto followed with a 3-pointer, then ended the half with a layup to give Toledo a 35-29 halftime lead.

The Eagles committed just two more turnovers during the half after those first few minutes, but they were out-rebounded by Toledo 26-14.

The teams traded a pair of baskets each to open the second half before Toledo went on a brief 5-0 spurt.  At that, they had a game-best 11-point lead (44-33), and they still led by 10 (50-40) with 12 minutes left.

After a basket from Sara Stone and a split pair of free throws from Jones, EMU's Natachia Watkins took over.  She scored 10 points by herself in just over two minutes, and her effort cut Toledo's lead to just 53-52 with 9:28 remaining.

Toledo improved their lead to seven as the clock ticked under two minutes, but another Stone bucket and a Dortch turnover gave EMU a chance to make it a one-possession game.  However, Morton missed a layup and Watkins could not convert a jumper off an offensive rebound.  On the ensuing possession, Reed-Lewis was fouled and converted both free throws.  Those shots re-established control for Toledo, and they sank 12 of 14 free throws in the final minute to seal the 80-73 win.

The Rockets out-shot the Eagles 42.9 to 36.5 percent and won the rebounding battle 50-36.  They also ended the game with a sizable 21-13 edge in made free throws.

Four players scored in double figures for the Rockets, and Inma Zanoguera led the way with a game-high 24 points.  Jones and Dortch each scored 14, while Reed-Lewis added 11.  Capotosto scored only nine, but she led the team with 11 rebounds.  EMU also had four double-digit scorers.  Watkins and Sweeney tied for the team lead with 18 points, while Stone and Olivia Fouty poured in 11 apiece.  Watkins also led the team with 10 rebounds.

The victory improves Toledo's record to 13-11 overall and 8-5 in the MAC.  They remain tied with Buffalo for the 4th seed and final MAC tournament bye, and their next game is at home on Sunday against Western Michigan.  EMU is 4-9 against MAC foes and 14-10 overall.  Their next game is at Ball State on Sunday.

WESTERN MICHIGAN 71, Ohio 64

The Western Michigan Broncos rallied from a first-half deficit to post a 71-64 victory over the Ohio Bobcats in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Wednesday night.  The comeback helped WMU avoid a second straight home loss.

The Broncos jumped to an early 5-2 lead, but Kiyanna Black tied the game for Ohio with a 3-pointer.  At the 5:50 mark of the first half, the Bobcats took the lead on a Yamonie Jenkins jumper, and they held it for all but the final seconds of the half.

Both offenses found good opportunities difficult to find, and while another 3-pointer by Black gave Ohio a seven-point lead (their biggest of the game) with 4:37 left in the half, the score was still only 24-17.  That trey would be Ohio's last field goal of the half.

Down 26-20, WMU went on a 10-1 run during the final two minutes of the half.  That burst included 3-pointers by Jazmine Windham and Julia Henson; the Broncos had made only one 3-pointer in the half to that point.  Henson's triple, inside the final 10 seconds, gave WMU a 30-27 halftime advantage.

After Ohio tied the game at 31 early in the second half, the Broncos went on a quick 7-0 run to take an eight-point lead.  However, the Bobcats fought back and re-tied the game at 50 on a 3-pointer by Black with just 7:48 left in the game.  The Broncos responded again, this time with a 9-2 run.  Another three by Black tried to quiet the run, but WMU scored seven more points to take a 66-55 lead with 80 seconds remaining.

The Broncos led by a game-best 12 points as the clocked moved inside one minute, but Ohio attempted a comeback by scoring seven straight.  Their cause was helped by a Michelle O'Brien turnover and a pair of missed free throws by Alex Morton.  However, Morton came back to sink her next two free throw attempts.  When Black missed a three with 10 seconds left, the Broncos had their 71-64 win.

WMU out-shot Ohio from the field and the free throw line, but both areas were relatively even.  The Broncos made 41.8 percent of their field goals compared to 38.9 for Ohio.  From the free throw line, both teams were very uninspiring, as both made fewer than 60 percent of their attempts.  However, the Broncos had double the chances (42-21) that Ohio did.  They also had a 48-36 edge in rebounds.

Marquisha Harris played 22 minutes off the bench and led the Broncos with 20 points.  Miracle Woods posted 13 points and nine rebounds, while O'Brien scored eight and pulled down a a game-best 12 boards.  Alex Morton also made a mark with nine points, seven assists and six rebounds.  Ohio's Kiyanna Black led all scorers with 29 points, which came in large part due to her seven 3-pointers.

Western Michigan is now 10-14 overall and 6-7 in the MAC.  They play at Toledo on Sunday and trail both the Rockets and Buffalo by two games for the 4th seed in the MAC tournament.  Essentially, if the Broncos want that bye, the game in Toledo is a must-win.  Ohio drops to 8-16 overall and 3-10 in the MAC, and they host Akron on Saturday.

Ball State 80, MIAMI 70

The Ball State Cardinals earned a hard-fought road win by overcoming a second-half deficit to beat the Miami RedHawks 80-70 in Oxford, Ohio on Thursday afternoon.  The win keeps the Cardinals in a sixth-place tie with Western Michigan in the MAC's overall standings.

Ball State led throughout the first half, but the RedHawks kept the game close.  The only time Miami was not within six points was midway through the period when Jill Morrison hit a 3-pointer to give BSU a brief eight-point lead.  However, Jillian Spurlock answered right back with a 3-pointer of her own on the next possession.

A three by Miami's Courtney Larson tied the game at 32 with 4:30 left in the half, but that would be the RedHawks' last field goal of the first 20 minutes.  They didn't score at all for the final 3:37, but Ball State nearly went scoreless, too.  However, Morrison drilled a trey with just three seconds left in the half to send the Cardinals to the locker room with a 36-32 edge.

Miami continued to keep the game close early in the second half until another Spurlock three tied the game 41-41 at the 4:07 mark.  Just 30 seconds later, Kindsay Brandt got an "and-1" jumper to give Miami it's first lead of the game (44-41).

The RedHawk lead lasted only three minutes, and Shelbie Justice gave Ball State a permanent edge with a 3-pointer.  Still, 12 minutes remained in the game, and Miami refused to let the Cardinals pull away.  With only 5:24 left before the buzzer, BSU led by only four (64-60).

On the next possession, Ball State got an offensive rebound off a missed layup, and Brittany Carter found Brandy Woody for a dagger of a 3-pointer.  That gave the Cardinals a 67-60 lead and seemed to deflate the RedHawks.  Miami could not get closer than five for the remainder of the game, and Ball State sank six of eight free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

Both teams shot better than 45 percent overall and each made nine 3-pointers.  However, free throw shooting was a key difference.  Ball State got to the line for 30 attempts and made 19.  Miami attempted only 16 and converted nine.  The Cardinals also had a huge 44-25 edge in rebounds, including 18-8 on offense.  That led to a 23-10 win in second-chance points.

BSU had balanced scoring with four players contributing at least 14 points.  Woody led the way with 19, while Justice added 17.  Katie Murphy provided 15 points and nine rebounds, and Nathalie Fontaine scored 14.  Miami's scoring effort was led by Hannah Robertson, who scored 14 and became the 22nd player in Miami history to eclipse 1,000 career points.

The Cardinals improve to 6-7 in the MAC and 11-13 overall with the victory.  They resume division play when they host Eastern Michigan on Saturday.  The RedHawks fall to 3-10 in the MAC and 7-17 overall.  Their next contest is on Sunday at Kent State.

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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 12 1 22 3 at Buffalo (2/22)
Akron 10 3 16 8 at Ohio (2/22)
Buffalo 8 5 15 9 vs BGSU (2/22)
Ohio 3 10 8 16 vs Akron (2/22)
Miami 3 10 7 17 at KSU (2/23)
Kent State 2 11 5 19 vs Miami (2/23)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost Next Game
Central Michigan 12 1 16 9 at NIU (2/22)
Toledo
8 5 13 11 vs WMU (2/23)
Ball State
6 7 11 13 vs EMU (2/23)
Western Michigan
6 7 10 14 at Toledo (2/23)
Eastern Michigan
4 9 14 10 at BSU (2/23)
Northern Illinois
4 9 8 15 vs CMU (2/22)

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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 CMU or BGSU
vs. 4, 5, 8, 9, or 12
SF 2 CMU or BGSU
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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