MAC Women's Basketball Mid-Week Roundup: February 5th-6th

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

You want to know what trumps everything else that's happened in the last 48 hours? A player doing something that no MAC player has ever done before. Kudos to you, Crystal Bradford.

(Click links for box-scores.)

Central Michigan 84, BALL STATE 81 (OT)

The Central Michigan Chippewas overcame a 19-point second-half deficit to defeat the Ball State Cardinals in Muncie, Ind. on Thursday night.  In the process. Crystal Bradford became the first player in Mid-American Conference history to record two triple-doubles in a career.  She accomplished both this season and becomes only the 39th player in NCAA history to have multiple triple-doubles in one year.

The Chippewas began the game by scoring the first seven points, but the Cardinals quickly answered with eight of their own.  The lead flipped twice more before Jas'Mine Bracey tied the game at 16 for CMU with 10:34 left in the first half.  Ball State reclaimed the lead with a pair of 3-pointers, but CMU answered each one to stay within 22-21 as 8:31 remained on the clock.

At that point, Ball State took over the game.  The Cardinals went on a 16-1 run and did not allow a field goal for 4:56.  Brandy Woody led the effort for BSU with seven points, as they built a 16-point lead.  CMU responded with six points in the final 3:35 of the half to cut the lead back to 10, but Nathalie Fontaine's layup with 17 seconds left gave Ball State a 40-28 halftime lead.

The Cardinals outshot the Chippewas 42.9-33.3 percent during the first half and doubled their number of 3-pointers.  They also outrebounded CMU 26-20.

Ball State started the second half on a 9-0 run to take a 19-point lead, their biggest of the game.  Central Michigan responded with 10 straight points of their own, and following a brief 5-1 flash by BSU, the Chippewas went on another 8-1 burst.  With 12:30 remaining in regulation, the score was just 53-47 in favor of the Cardinals.

Undaunted, the Cardinals fought right back with a 12-3 run and allowed only one field goal over a seven-minute span.  The run rebuilt Ball State's lead to 15 with just 6:26 left, and it appeared as if CMU would suffer their first MAC loss of the season.  Crystal Bradford had other ideas.

In a comeback very reminiscent of theirs versus Bowling Green, CMU held Ball State to no field goals and five turnovers in the final four minutes.  Meanwhile, Crystal Bradford scored 12 points as Central Michigan closed the second half on an 18-3 run.  Bradford sank a three to get CMU within 68-66, then Da'Jourie Turner scored on a layup to tie the game at 68 with 23 seconds left.

The game remained very close in overtime, but Central Michigan controlled the action by making five free throws in the final 2:11 and eventually won 84-81.

Ball State finished the game with a 50-47 edge in rebounds but was forced into 22 turnovers and gave up 27 points off those.  Although the Cardinals outshot the Chippewas from the floor (and from behind the arc), but they were only 14-of-24 from the free throw line.

Bradford finished the game with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.  She also contributed two blocks and three steals.  Bracey added another double-double (20 points, 15 rebounds) to her ever-growing resume, and Jessica Green scored 15.  Fontaine led Ball State's scoring effort with 23 points.  Shelbie Justice contributed a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Central Michigan remains unbeaten in MAC play with a 10-0 record and is now 14-8 overall.  Their next game is on Sunday at home against Buffalo.  Ball State drops to 4-6 in the MAC and 9-12 overall.  The Cardinals have a key game at Northern Illinois on Sunday.

BUFFALO 55, Ohio 43

The Buffalo Bulls won for the sixth time in MAC play with a 55-43 comeback victory over the Ohio Bobcats in Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday afternoon.  The Bulls' defense notched season-bests with in points allowed and opponent shooting percentage.

The Bulls took a 6-3 lead and made three of their first four shots during the opening 2:13 of the game.  However, they failed to score for the following eight minutes while Ohio went on an 8-0 run to take an 11-6 lead.  Buffalo missed ten consecutive shots and were forced into four turnovers during the stretch.  However, the Bulls were able to keep Ohio's lead within five points until Mackenzie Loesing sank a layup for an 18-17 lead with 44 seconds left in the half.  The Bobcats scored the final three points of the half to reclaim a 20-18 lead at the break.

The two-point deficit for Buffalo could have been worse.  They shot just 30 percent in the first half and made no 3-pointers or free throws.  They also committed 10 turnovers and were outrebounded 23-20.  However, the Bobcats were even worse from the floor.  They made just 8 of their 29 shots (27.6%) and only one of 11 3-pointers.  Loesing scored 10 of Buffalo's 18 points in the half.

Ohio scored the first four points of the second half to take a six-point lead (24-18), their biggest of the game.  Buffalo responded with a 14-1 run over a six-minute stretch that allowed the Bulls to take a 32-25 lead with 13 minutes left in the game.  The Bobcats would not go away, though, and a 7-2 burst gave them one final lead at 43-42 on a Lexie Baldwin 3-pointer.

Unfortunately for Ohio, that would be their final points of the game.  Buffalo scored the last 13 points in the game's final four minutes as Ohio missed their final six shots and committed five turnovers down the stretch.  Loesing and Christa Baccas combined for 10 of those 13 points, including a dagger 3-pointer that gave Buffalo firm control of the final few minutes.

The Bulls outshot Ohio 40.6 to 22.2 percent and won the rebounding battle 29-16 in the second half.  Overall, Buffalo shot only 35 percent and was just 1-for-10 behind the arc, but the Bulls held Ohio to only 25 percent and 3-for-19 from long range. Loesing scored 18 points to lead all scorers, and Margeaux Gupilan added 10.  Alexus Malone pulled down 16 rebounds and scored eight points.  Quiera Lampkins and Kiyanna Black led Ohio with 12 points apiece.

Buffalo is now 13-8 overall and 6-4 in the MAC.  They play at Central Michigan on Sunday in a rematch of a loss to CMU from January.  Ohio drops to 8-13 overall and 3-7 in the MAC with their loss.  They host Eastern Michigan on Sunday.

Toledo 73, MIAMI 65

The Toledo Rockets regrouped from two home losses last week by defeating the Miami RedHawks 73-65 on Thursday night in Oxford, Ohio.  Four players scored in double figures for the Rockets, who improved their conference record to 5-5 with the victory.

The first half was a fantastic back-and-forth affair that featured four ties and 11 lead changes.  The lead bounced between the Rockets and RedHawks nine times in just the first five minutes, and Toledo ended that stretch with a 14-12 lead.  The Rockets then went scoreless for over three minutes as Miami tied the game at 14, but they went on a 9-2 run to take a 23-16 lead, which was the biggest of the first half.

The RedHawks responded with an "and-one" layup by Kelsey Simon and a 3-pointer by Hannah Robertson to cut the Rocket lead to one.  Later, a three by Haley Robertson allowed Miami to reclaim the lead at 32-29 with 1:05 left in the half.  Janelle Reed-Lewis sank a 3-pointer with three seconds on the clock, and the Rockets went to halftime with a 35-34 lead.

The big edge for Toledo in the first half was on the offensive glass.  The Rockets had an 8-6 edge in offensive rebounds, and that led to a 12-2 advantage in second-chance points.  Toledo also turned the ball over just three times.

The lead changed hands four more times early in the second half, but a jumper by Inma Zanoguera gave Toledo the lead for good at the 3:13 mark of the period.  Miami was able to keep the game close and trailed by just five with under seven minutes to play, but an Ana Capotosto three for Toledo was the final nail.  It gave them an eight-point lead, and they would not lead by fewer than six for the rest of the contest.  Two Zanoguera free throws in the final minute gave Toledo their final margin of 73-65.

Both teams shot just over 42 percent from the floor, and Miami won the rebounding battle 41-34.  However, Toledo made 11 3-pointers to just six for Miami, while they committed just nine turnovers and forced 18.  Capotosto led all scorers with 21 points and made eight of her 17 shots.  Zanoguera posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.  Andola Dortch added 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds.  Jillian Spurlock was the only RedHawks player who scored in double figures; she led the team with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Toledo improves to 10-11 overall and 5-5 in the MAC with the victory.  They play their second road game of the week on Sunday when they travel to Kent State.  Miami drops to 7-14 overall and 3-7 in the MAC.  Their next game is on Sunday at Bowling Green.

EASTERN MICHIGAN 65, Kent State 57

The Eastern Michigan Eagles ended a five-game losing streak by taking down the Kent State Golden Flashes 65-57 in Ypsilanti, Mich. on Thursday night.  The Eagles were able to win despite being outshot 50 to 33 percent by Kent State.  EMU pulled down 16 offensive rebounds and forced 24 turnovers to mitigate the shooting discrepancy.

The Eagles built an early 8-2 lead as KSU failed to score a field goal for the first four minutes, but the Golden Flashes fought back for nine straight points and took an 11-8 lead on an Amber Dunlap 3-pointer at the 7:18 mark.  Janay Morton answered for EMU on the next possession, as the game featured six different ties during a ten-minute span in the middle of the first half.  The Eagles went on a 9-2 run late in the half to take a seven-point lead (30-23), which was the biggest for either team in the half, but Kent State was able to cut the score to 32-29 by halftime.

Ashley Evans sank a 3-pointer to open the second half for Kent State, and that tied the score at 32.  There would be three more ties and a lead change in the first ten minutes of the period, until Cha Sweeney broke the final tie for Eastern Michigan with a fast-break layup.  Her score in transition gave EMU a 43-41 lead, and they would not trail again.

Sweeney's layup started a 12-0 run for the Eagles, as EMU held Kent State without a field goal for over six minutes.  Natachia Watkins capped the burst by converting four of six free throw attempts in less than 30 seconds, a feat helped by a technical foul on KSU's Dunlap.  EMU held control of the game with a 53-41 and just six minutes remaining.

Kent State tried to come back in the final minutes but could only cut the lead to six before they eventually fell, 65-57.

As noted above, the Golden Flashes were much more accurate from the floor.  Both teams made 22 field goals, but KSU took only 44 attempts to get there as compared to 65 by EMU.  Neither team was particularly sharp from behind the arc, as the Flashes were only 3-of-11 while the Eagles were 5-of-22.  The difference in the game came via turnovers and offensive rebounds.  Eastern Michigan nabbed 16 rebounds on offense and forced 24 turnovers, while Kent State could only manage four offensive rebounds and forced just 14 turnovers.  This led to a big EMU advantage in second-chance points (17-4) and points off turnovers (23-13).

EMU was led by Watkins, who scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, including five on offense.  Cha Sweeney and Sara Stone each poured in 12, while Janay Morton was held to nine points (all from behind the arc).  Montia Johnson (14) and Ashley Evans (11) led the Golden Flashes in scoring.  CiCi Shannon secured 11 rebounds.

Eastern Michigan is now 3-7 in MAC play, with two wins over Kent State.  They are 13-8 overall and will play at Ohio on Saturday.  Kent State falls to 4-17 overall and 1-9 against MAC teams.  The Flashes host Toledo on Sunday.

BOWLING GREEN 72, Western Michigan 50 (Wednesday)

The Bowling Green Falcons could not shake the Western Michigan Broncos in the first half, but an 18-2 run to start the second period allowed BGSU to pull away for a 72-50 win over the Broncos on Wednesday night in Bowling Green, Ohio.  Jillian Halfhill had 22 points, which was a season-best, and sank six 3-pointers (a career-best) during the victory.

The first half started slowly for both teams' offenses.  Western Michigan scored only one field goal in the first six minutes, while BGSU had only one until an Erica Donovan 3-pointer gave the Falcons a 5-3 lead at the 4:31 mark.  Shortly after, Halfhill sank a layup and followed it with a triple, as the Falcons built their lead to 10-3.  The margin would fluctuate (with one exception) between three and seven points until the final two minutes of the half.

BGSU took a 29-23 lead on a Deborah Hoekstra bomb with 2:09 left in the half, but WMU responded with seven straight points.  The Broncos briefly took a 30-29 lead thanks to a trey by Jessica Jessing with 54 seconds remaining in the period.  However, Halfhill answered right back with another 3-pointer, and an ominous feeling filled the air as BGSU took a 32-30 lead to halftime.

The Falcons took Western Michigan apart in the second half.  BGSU allowed only four points in the first 12:15 of the period, and they scored 25 during the same span to build an insurmountable 57-34 lead.  The Broncos went stretches of four and six minutes without field goals, and BGSU's defense held them to 2-of-17 from the floor with five turnovers and no free throw attempts.  Alexis Rogers (12) and Jill Stein (5) led the scoring barrage for the Falcons.

Bowling Green eventually led by as much as 26 before they cruised to a 22-point victory.

The difference in this game was BGSU's sharp-shooting.  The Falcons made 43.9 percent (25-of-57) of their shots, including 46.7 percent (14-of-30) in the second half.  They were particularly dangerous from long range, as they sank 12 of their 26 attempts (and 10 of their first 16).  BGSU was also 10-of-13 from the free throw line and won the rebounding battle 41-36.

Halfhill ended the game with a career-best six 3-pointers and a total of 22 points.  Rogers (16) and Stein (7) combined for 23 points, and all but two came in the second half.  Stein added nine rebounds to lead the Falcons.  Erica Donovan complimented the others with 12 points.  Miracle Woods led Western Michigan with 14 points and 11 rebounds.  Marquisha Harris was held to eight points, but Jessica Jessing provided 11 points in 24 minutes off the bench.

The victory allows BGSU to improve to 19-3 overall and 9-1 in MAC games.  They host the Miami RedHawks on Sunday afternoon.  Western Michigan drops to 5-5 in the MAC and 9-12 overall with the loss.  Their next game is on Saturday at Akron.

Akron 71, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 67 (Wednesday)

The Akron Zips pulled off an improbable five-point play during the final seconds to secure a 71-67 comeback victory over the Northern Illinois Huskies in DeKalb, Ill. on Wednesday night.  Rachel Tecca made her own bit of history as she pulled down eight rebounds to become only the second player in Mid-American Conference history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.

Both teams began the game slowly, as the Northern Illinois defense was able to dictate the early minutes of the game.  Akron did not surpass 10 points until nearly nine minutes into the game, and Hanna Luburgh's layup with 4:36 left in the half still only made the score 21-19 in favor of NIU.  Akron would not make another field goal for the rest of the half, and they would not score at all in the final 3:24 after a Rachel Tecca free throw cut the NIU lead to 21-20.  The Huskies score 10 points in the final 2:45 of the period, including four by Jenna Thorp, to take a 31-20 lead to the locker room.

Akron had an uncharacteristically poor 25.8 shooting percentage in the first half.  They made only eight total field goals and were successful on none of their six attempted 3-pointers.  The problem even bled over to the free throw line, where the Zips were only 4-of-9.  On the other side, NIU made 14 of their 30 shots (46.7%) and outrebounded Akron 25-20.

Northern Illinois still led by 13 points after five minutes of the second half, but the Zips finally found their shooting touch and erupted for a 15-3 run over a four-minute span.  That burst, during which they allowed only one field goal, cut NIU's lead to just 43-42.  Two minutes later, Akron finally reclaimed the lead after an Anita Brown jumper.

The score went back-and-forth for the next several minutes until a pair of Luburgh free throws tied the game at 58.  The Huskies seemed to take control of the game with a 6-0 spurt for a 64-58 lead, and they still led 67-64 as 20 seconds remained.  With 18 seconds left, Luburgh set up and drained a triple.  At the same time, away from the ball, NIU's Amanda Corral fouled Akron's Carly Young.  The shot counted, and Young was awarded two free throws.  She sank both for a five-point play, and Akron led 69-67.

Rachel Tecca stole the ball on the ensuing possession, and Corral fouled her with eight seconds remaining.  Tecca converted both free throws to seal the 71-67 victory.

Akron scored 51 points in the second half after just 20 in the first 20 minutes.  They did so by making 12 of 16 free throws and nearly doubling their field goal percentage to 47.4.  They also made three triples.  NIU shot 44 percent, made two 3-pointers and also had 12 free throws in the second half.  However, they took 13 fewer shots (and made seven fewer) than Akron, as they committed 10 turnovers (and forced just two) and were outhustled on the offensive glass 11-8.

The Zips had a 19-9 edge in forced turnovers and an 18-14 edge in offensive rebounds (even through they were outrebounded in total) during the game.  That led to a combined 38-27 advantage in points resulting from turnovers and offensive rebounds.

Tecca concluded her historic night with 23 points and eight rebounds.  Luburgh added 17 points and six rebounds, while Carly Young scored 19 and pulled down 10 rebounds in 32 bench minutes.  Thorp led NIU with 13 points and 11 rebounds.  Corral and Jazmine Harris each scored 12 for the Huskies.

Akron won their sixth consecutive game and maintained sole possession of third place in the MAC with the victory.  They are now 13-8 overall and 7-3 in MAC play and will host Western Michigan on Saturday.  Northern Illinois's loss drops the Huskies to 4-6 in the MAC and 8-12 overall.  They host Ball State in a key divisional matchup on Sunday.

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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 9 1 19 3 vs Miami (2/9)
Akron 7 3 13 8 vs WMU (2/8)
Buffalo 6 4 13 8 at CMU (2/9)
Ohio 3 7 8 13 vs EMU (2/9)
Miami 3 7 7 14 at BGSU (2/9)
Kent State 1 9 4 17 vs Toledo (2/9)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost
Central Michigan 10 0 14 8 vs Buffalo (2/9)
Toledo
5 5 10 11 at KSU (2/9)
Western Michigan
5 5 9 12 at Akron (2/8)
Ball State
4 6 9 12 at NIU (2/9)
Northern Illinois
4 6 8 12 vs NIU (2/9)
Eastern Michigan
3 7 13 8 at Ohio (2/9)

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