MAC Women's Basketball Sunday Roundup: February 23rd

USA TODAY Sports

Kent State won for the third time in six games while Eastern and Western Michigan both picked up important road wins in their attempts to catch their divisional foes.

(Click links for box-scores.)

KENT STATE 67, Miami 51

The Kent State Golden Flashes won their third game of the conference season on Sunday afternoon when they defeated the Miami RedHawks 67-51.  The game was held at the M.A.C. Center in Kent, Ohio.

The Flashes have been getting progressively better for the last month.  They began conference play 0-8 with an average margin of defeat of more than 21 points.  None of the losses were by fewer than 10 points.  Since then, they've won three of six games.  Two of the three losses were by just eight points.  The three wins include today's 16-point win, as well as their first road victory of the season.

Miami has done the opposite.  The RedHawks started their MAC schedule with three straight losses but followed by splitting their next six games, including a win over Akron.  However, they have now lost five in a row, and the last four losses have come by a combined 113 points (28 per game).  All four have been by double digits, and two were by more than 40.

The RedHawks earned the game's opening points thanks to a 3-pointer by Hannah Robertson at the 1:09 mark of the first half.  The two teams traded the lead seven times during the game's first eight minutes.  The last lead change came on a Larissa Lurken trey, which gave Kent State a 12-10 edge.

After a KSU free throw and a Miami basket, the Flashes went on a 9-0 run and held Miami without a score for over four minutes.  Miami followed with a quick five points to cut KSU's lead from 10 back to five, and they still trailed by just five with 51 seconds left in the half after a Courtney Larson 3-pointer.  That good fortune would not last.

As the clock ticked to 13 seconds, Montia Johnson converted a layup, was fouled and sank the resulting free throw.  Nicole Anderson followed by missing a three, and KSU's Mikell Chinn pulled down the rebound.  She drove down the court, and just before the buzzer, she was fouled on a 3-pointer attempt by Robertson.  Chinn drilled all three free throws, and the Flashes went to halftime with an 11-point lead (36-25).

Kent State controlled the action in the second half.  Their lead grew to as many as 18 points and never shrunk to fewer than 12.  Eventually, they cruised to a 16-point victory.  Only one previous win this season was by a larger margin for the Flashes.

KSU had a golden shooting day.  They were above 50 percent in both halves and finished at 53.5 percent (23-of-43).  They also converted five of their 10 3-pointers and 16 of 21 free throws.  Miami was also good from the free throw line (15-of-18), but they made just one-third (16-of-48) of their shots from the field and only four of 15 from behind the arc.  Kent State had advantages in rebounds and turnovers, but neither was significant.

Four players scored in double figures for the Flashes.  CiCi Shannon led all players with 16 points.  Larissa Lurken scored 15 and made four 3-pointers.  Amber Dunlap and Montia Johnson each scored 10, and Johnson added a team-best seven rebounds.  Haley Robertson played 25 minutes off the bench and led Miami with 11 points.

Both teams are now 3-11 in MAC games and are in a three-way tie with Ohio for 10th place in the conference.  Miami is 7-18 overall and will travel to Akron for a Wednesday night game.  Kent State improves to 6-19 with the victory.  Their next game is on Thursday night at Bowling Green.

Eastern Michigan 62, BALL STATE 60

The Eastern Michigan Eagles earned a key road victory on Sunday afternoon when they defeated the Ball State Cardinals 62-60.  The game was held in Muncie, Ind. at Worthen Arena.

The Eagles scored the first five points of the game with a layup by Natachia Watkins and a 3-pointer from Cha Sweeney.  After nine minutes, EMU led by 10 points (20-10), and that lead reached 11 later in the half.  However, despite holding the lead for the entire half, the Eagles' lead waned significantly.

Ball State closed the half on an 11-3 run after EMU claimed their 11-point advantage.  The run was helped by a pair of free throws from Jill Morrison, a trey from Shelbie Justice, and a layup from Renee Bennett.  Bennett's shot came with 39 seconds left and represented the final points of the half.  BSU trailed at halftime, but only 36-33.

Brittany Carter tied the game at 36 for Ball State with a 3-pointer just 1:06 into the second half.  It was the first time BSU had even tied the game since the first basket of the contest.  After the team's traded layups, Carter poured in another basket at the 3:21 mark of the period.  Those points gave Ball State their first lead (40-38) of the game.

The Cardinals used what eventually became a 13-4 run to take their biggest lead of the game, seven points (49-42) at the midpoint of the half.  However, EMU responded with a 9-0 run over the following two minutes to reclaim the lead at 51-42.

Shelby Merder and Janay Morton traded 3-pointers, and Brandy Woody followed with a pair of free throws that provided a 54-54 tie with 5:00 left.  However, Desyree Thomas connected on a three, and EMU would hold the lead for the final 4:11 of the game.

Ball State actually had a chance to win the game in the final seconds.  Woody scored on a layup with 39 seconds left, and Thomas missed a trey on the Eagles' end.  Ten seconds remained after a timeout.  Woody tried to drive the baseline, but she was forced to step out of bounds before she was able to get a pass away.  Sweeney was fouled after the in-bounds pass and made one of two free throws.  Nathalie Fontaine missed a half-court heave at the buzzer, and the Eagles won 62-60.

Eastern Michigan shot 43.3 percent and made six three pointers.  They managed only five attempts at the free throw line compared to 21 for Ball State.  However, BSU made only 12 of those free throws and shot just 35.5 percent overall.  That figure included a poor 4-of-23 performance from beyond the arc.  EMU committed 23 turnovers but gave up only 10 points as a result.  Meanwhile, they scored 19 points as a result of 18 Ball State turnovers.

Sweeney finished the game with 20 points and six rebounds for EMU.  Watkins led all players with 12 rebounds, and she scored eight points.  Fontaine (16) and Justice (13) led Ball State in scoring.  Fontaine added a team-best 10 rebounds.  Bennett scored 14 and pulled down seven rebounds in just 14 bench minutes.

The Eagles are now 15-10 overall and 5-9 in the MAC.  They resume play at Western Michigan on Wednesday night.  The Cardinals drop to 6-8 in the MAC and 11-14 overall.  Ball State's next game is at Central Michigan on Thursday.  BSU led CMU by 19 points at one point before losing their previous meeting.  If the season ended today, Ball State would be the #7 seed and EMU the #8 seed in the MAC tournament.  Both would host first-round games.

Western Michigan 60, TOLEDO 59

The Western Michigan Broncos survived a last-second desperation three and earned their first win in Toledo since 2008 with a 60-59 victory over the Rockets.  The first road win against UT in six years also provided WMU with its first season-sweep of the Rockets in eight years (2006).

Toledo built an early 12-3 lead as they started 5-of-7 from the floor while WMU began just 1-of-7.  Unfortunately for the Rockets, that first 4:15 was a mirage.  After that point, the Rockets shot just 27.4 percent while the Broncos made 47.7 percent of their attempts.

Western Michigan flipped the lead with a 15-3 run over the next six minutes.  Toledo missed eight of nine shots and went nearly six minutes without any field goals at all.  Despite their shooting difficulties, the Rockets were able to stay within six points for the remainder of the half and even tied the game on two occasions.  However, they went to the half trailing 36-32.

The Rockets shooting woes worsened significantly in the second half.  They made only eight shots, but an incredible 17 offensive rebounds kept the ball on Toledo's end for much of the period.  As a result, WMU attempted only 21 shots during the half and scored only 24 points.  This allowed Toledo to stay in the game.  The Broncos' lead was never more than nine and stayed within six for the final 12:46.

For Toledo, the poor shooting was ultimately their downfall.  Inside the final four minutes, they missed four shots and two free throws that could have cut the WMU lead from two possessions to one.  Then, in the final 10 seconds and after three missed Broncos' free throws, Toledo had two chances to win.  Janelle Reed-Lewis missed a layup with nine seconds left, and the ball went out off a WMU player.  Ana Capotosto followed with a 3-pointer, but it also missed .

The Broncos missed half of their 22 free throws and were out-rebounded 51-40.  They gave up 24 offensive rebounds to Toledo and gave up 17 turnovers while taking away just 13.  However, they shot 41.5 percent overall and made five of 13 from beyond the arc.  Toledo made just 31.9 percent of their shots and on 3-pointer attempts, they were 2-of-20.

Seven players scored for WMU.  Marquisha Harris led the team with 20 points during 31 minutes off the bench.  Andola Dortch led Toledo with 18 points, while Inma Zanoguera and Brianna Jones each notched double-doubles for the Rockets.

WMU moves to .500 (7-7) in conference play and is 11-14 overall.  They host Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night and have an opportunity to move into a tie for fourth place (and a bye to the third round of the MAC tournament).  Toledo is currently in a tie for that fourth spot with Buffalo at 8-6 in MAC play.  The Rockets are 13-12 overall and must play at Northern Illinois on Thursday afternoon.

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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 13 1 23 3 vs KSU (2/27)
Akron 11 3 17 8 vs Miami (2/26)
Buffalo 8 6 15 10 at Ohio (2/27)
Ohio 3 11 8 17 vs Buffalo (2/27)
Miami 3 11 7 18 at Akron (2/26)
Kent State 3 11 6 19 at BGSU (2/27)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost Next Game
Central Michigan 13 1 17 9 vs BSU (2/27)
Toledo
8 6 13 12 at NIU (2/27)
Western Michigan
7 7 11 14 vs EMU (2/26)
Ball State
6 8 11 14 at CMU (2/27)
Eastern Michigan
5 9 15 10 at WMU (2/26)
Northern Illinois
4 10 8 16 vs Toledo (2/27)

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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 Eastern Michigan
vs. 9 Northern Illinois
1st 7 Ball State
vs. 10 Ohio
1st 6 Western Michigan
vs. 11 Miami
ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
2nd Toledo or KSU vs. EMU or NIU
2nd BSU or Ohio vs. WMU 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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