MAC Women's Basketball Weekend Roundup: March 1st-2nd

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Akron, Bowling Green and Central Michigan continued to win and are now 39-1 against the other nine MAC teams. Eastern Michigan picked up a big home win, while Western Michigan dropped an important home game.

(Click links for box-scores.)

BOWLING GREEN 63, Ohio 39

The Bowling Green Falcons completed a perfect 13-0 slate of home games at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio with a 63-39 victory over the Ohio Bobcats on Sunday afternoon.  The Falcons' win sealed a bye to the semifinals of the MAC tournament.

BGSU shot 56 percent in the second half while limiting the Bobcats to 22.4 percent for the entire game.  Ohio sank only 11 field goals and made just four of 28 3-pointers.  Sunday's contest was the final home game in the careers of Alexis Rogers, Jill Stein and Jillian Halfhill.  Each scored in double figures, with Halfhill cashing in 12 points to lead the group.  Rogers and Stein each scored 11.  Yamonie Jenkins scored 12 points off the bench to lead Ohio's effort.

Bowling Green improves to 15-1 against MAC foes and 25-3 overall.  Ohio falls to 9-18 for the season and 4-12 in the MAC.  The Falcons play their next game on Wednesday at noon against Miami.  Ohio will host Kent State on Sunday evening.

Click HERE for our complete recap of the game.

Central Michigan 80, TOLEDO 77

The Central Michigan Chippewas have turned the comeback into an art form, and Sunday afternoon's edition may have been their finest yet.  The Chippewas trailed for much of the game, but when it mattered most, they made their shots and ultimately left the Glass City with an 80-77 victory over the Toledo Rockets.  With the victory, the Chippewas join Bowling Green as the two teams to earn byes directly to the MAC tournament semifinals.

The two teams shot and rebounded similarly well, but CMU separated themselves at the charity stripe and with the turnover game.  Central Michigan earned 19 more shots at the free throw line (and made 10 more) than Toledo, and although they turned the ball over one more time (14-13) than Toledo, they turned their takeaways into 20 points.  Toledo managed just 10.

Crystal Bradford and Taylor Johnson each scored 23 to lead CMU.  Bradford led all players with 12 rebounds, and Jas'Mine Bracey added 10 more.  Janelle Reed-Lewis led all players with 24 points for the Rockets, as she made 10 of her 20 shots, including four of seven 3-pointers.  Andola Dortch provided 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while Brianna Jones led UT with 10 rebounds.

The Chippewas improve to 15-1 against MAC foes and 19-9 overall.  Toledo drops to 8-8 and a fifth-place tie in the MAC standings, and they are 13-14 overall.  CMU will host Western Michigan on Wednesday night, while Toledo will host Eastern Michigan.

Click HERE for our complete recap of the game.

Akron 80, KENT STATE 66

The Akron Zips continued their run as the hottest team in the MAC and extended their school-record winning streak to 12 games with an 80-66 victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes on Sunday afternoon. The game was held at the M.A.C. Center in Kent, Ohio.

The game was another showcase for Rachel Tecca, who scored 29 points and broke Akron's single-season scoring record.  She also grabbed 13 rebounds and two steals.  Eighteen of those points were scored in a second half that saw the Zips pull away from a pesky Kent State squad.

The Zips were out-shot 40.6 to 37.9 percent in the first half and committed 10 turnovers, but they benefited from 12 Kent State fouls that led to 10 makes in 14 attempts at the free throw line.  After the Flashes led for most of the first seven minutes, Akron took the lead for good on back-to-back scores from Tecca and Carly Young.  They slowly built the lead to as much as nine.  However, KSU would not allow it to grow any further, and Akron held a six-point edge (33-27) at halftime.

The second half began with Kent State matching Akron shot-for-shot.  Shooting was much better in the second half, as both teams went over 50 percent.  After 7:30 had elapsed, the Flashes had out-scored Akron 16-14 and trailed only 47-43.  The Zips finally took control of the game over the next 5:30.  They went on an 18-4 run that was led by 11 combined points from Tecca and Hanna Luburgh.  After an old-fashioned three-point play from Tecca with 7:04 left on the clock, the Zips led 65-47 and had the game in hand.

Down by 16 with two minutes to go, Kent State forced two turnovers that allowed them to go on a brief 6-0 run.  However, ten points is as small as the deficit would get, and Akron quickly finished off the 14-point win.

Both teams finished the game by shooting over 45 percent, but that did not extend beyond the arc.  They combined to go just 4-of-23 on 3-pointers.  Turnovers were also even.  The difference came in rebounds, where Akron led 45-29, and at the free throw line.  The Zips made 12 more shots at the charity stripe than the Flashes.

Aside from Tecca's heroics, Akron was led by Luburgh's 21 points and 10 off the bench from Young.  Four Kent State players were in double figures, and Amber Dunlap led the group with 19 points.  Montia Johnson scored 15 and had a team-best eight rebounds.

Akron, who is 19-8 overall and 13-3 in the MAC, is now locked into the #3 seed in the MAC tournament.  They will get a bye into the third round and will play either the #6, #7, #10 or #11 seed on Thursday, March 13th in Cleveland.  The Zips begin the final week of the regular season on Wednesday night at Buffalo.  Kent State falls to 3-13 in the MAC and 6-21 overall with their loss.  The Flashes play at Ohio on Wednesday night.

EASTERN MICHIGAN 54, Northern Illinois 45

The Eastern Michigan Eagles won a defensive battle and evened the score with the Northern Illinois Huskies by capturing a 54-45 decision in Ypsilanti, Mich. on Sunday afternoon.

EMU jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead and held an 11-5 advantage after four minutes, thanks in large part to nine combined points from Olivia Fouty and Natachia Watkins.  However, at the 4:37 mark of the period, Ashley Sneed drilled a 3-pointer for NIU, and neither team would lead by as much as six again until the second half.

The remainder of the first half was slow-going and tense, and there were four lead changes between the two apparently evenly-matched teams.

NIU trailed 24-23 at halftime but briefly reclaimed the lead 29 seconds into the second half on a pair of free throws from Ally Lehman.  The Eagles took the lead right back on the ensuing possession when Cha Sweeney was fouled.  She sank both of her free throw attempts, and EMU would not trail again.

After a jumper by Shannise Heady for the Eagles, NIU's Natecia Augusta scored the Huskies' first field goal of the half.  They would not score again for three minutes, as EMU went on an 11-0 run to take control of the game.  Sweeney started by scoring twice in less than 60 seconds, and Fouty capped it with an "and-1" layup.  With 15:00 left, the Eagles led 39-27.

Northern Illinois fought back to within five points (45-40) with six minutes remaining, but they would get no closer.  The Huskies missed seven of nine shots, and EMU went on a 9-2 burst to re-take control, 54-42.  Danny Pulliam sank a 3-pointer for NIU to provide the final nine-point margin.

Despite losing the total rebounding battle 37-31, Eastern Michigan secured more on offense (12-11) than Northern Illinois.  They earned an 11-5 edge in second-chance points.  The Eagles also forced 20 turnovers while committing just nine, and that allowed them to own a 15-7 advantage in points off turnovers.

Fouty and Sweeney led the Eagles with 13 points apiece.  Sweeney dished out three assists, while Fouty pulled down 10 rebounds.  Watkins added eight points and became only the 18th player in EMU history to surpass the 1,000-point barrier.  Augusta finished the game with a team-best 12 points for NIU.  Jenna Thorp led the Huskies with nine rebounds.

EMU leaps ahead of NIU in the league standings with the victory and now needs no help to secure a home game in the first round of the MAC tournament.  EMU is 16-11 overall and 6-10 in the MAC, while NIU is 9-17 and 5-11 against MAC foes.  Both teams are on the road on Wednesday night; the Eagles play at Toledo while the Huskies visit Ball State.

Buffalo 74, MIAMI 61

The Buffalo Bulls led throughout a 74-61 victory over the Miami RedHawks on Saturday afternoon in Oxford, Ohio.  Kristen Sharkey and Mackenzie Loesing took charge for the Bulls and ultimately combined for 41 points.

The Bulls scored the game's first four points and never looked back.  Nine minutes into the contest, Karin Moss drilled a 3-pointer to give Buffalo their first double-digit lead of the game (25-13).  After another nine minutes, five straight points from Loesing pushed Buffalo's lead to 20 points (39-19).  Miami went on an 8-2 run to close the first half, but Buffalo still led 41-27 at the break.

Despite the big early lead, the Bulls could not put Miami away.  Buffalo led by 17 (51-34) with 14:27 left, but Miami went on an 8-0 run that cut the advantage nearly in half.  Hannah Robertson sparked that run with six straight points.  Later in the half, down 59-48, Miami used several ill-timed fouls by the Bulls to go on a 7-0 run.  That got the RedHawks to within four (59-55), and there was still 5:58 left on the clock.

Margeaux Gupilan finally put an end to the bleeding with a layup, and that started Buffalo on an 8-0 run of their own.  The Bulls got a 3-pointer from Moss and sank all 10 of their free throw attempts during the final 5:02 of the game.  Miami could not match the points on their end, and Buffalo ultimately won by 13.

The Bulls out-shot Miami 43.1-37.5 percent.  They made 7-of-26 from beyond the arc, while Miami was just 3-of-20.  The Bulls also made 17 of their 21 free throw attempts.  Buffalo ultimately won the rebounding battle 40-30 and combined for a 30-19 advantage in second-chance points and points off turnovers.

As noted, Sharkey and Loesing were the stars for Buffalo.  Sharkey scored 22 and pulled down 14 rebounds.  She made six of her eight shots from the field and 10 of her 11 from the free throw line.  Loesing added 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting.  Jillian Spurlock led Miami with both 19 points and five rebounds.  Robertson added 18 points for the RedHawks.

The Bulls now control their own destiny for the #4 seed and final bye to the third round of the MAC tournament.  They are 9-7 in the MAC and 16-11 overall.  Miami remains in a tie with Kent State at the bottom of the conference with a 3-13 league record and 7-20 mark overall.  Buffalo hosts Akron on Wednesday night, while Miami hosts Bowling Green on Wednesday at noon.

Ball State 79, WESTERN MICHIGAN 73

The Ball State Cardinals earned a hard-fought road victory over the Western Michigan Broncos in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Saturday afternoon.  The Cardinals' 79-73 win moves them to within one game of the Broncos and the Toledo Rockets in the MAC West standings.

This game was close throughout.  Neither team ever led by more than eight points, and there were a total of nine ties and five lead changes.  Six of the ties and four of the lead changes occurred during the second half.

WMU started with an early 6-4 lead, but Shelbie Justice connected on a 3-pointer for Ball State just 3:19 into the contest.  That gave Ball State their first lead, and the Cardinals would hold that advantage for almost the entire remainder of the half.  They went to the locker room with a 41-39 lead.

Julia Henson sent home a 3-pointer at the 1:04 mark of the second half, and that finally allowed WMU to reclaim the lead (44-43).  Eight minutes later, a three by A.J. Johnson put Western Michigan up by six points.  Ball State fought back with a four-minute run of 13-2, and the Cardinals took back the lead.

BSU earned the victory down the stretch by making three of their final five shots and seven of 10 free throws.  WMU kept scoring, too, but they were not able to overcome the deficit and take the lead.  Ball State eventually won by six.

The Cardinals out-shot the Broncos 51.9 to 41.7 percent overall.  Both teams shot a combined 23-of-41 between 3-point range and the free throw line.  Four players scored in double figures for Ball State.  Nathalie Fontaine led all players with 23 points, while Justice scored 16.  Brandy Woody posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Shelby Merder added 12 points off the bench.  The Broncos were led by Marquisha Harris, who scored 16 points.  Henson and Miracle Woods each scored 10.

Both teams are now 12-15 overall, but WMU maintains a one-game lead over Ball State in the MAC standings.  The 8-8 Broncos continue their MAC schedule on Wednesday night at Central Michigan, while the 7-9 Cardinals host Northern Illinois.

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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 15 1 25 3 at Miami (3/5)
Akron 13 3 19 8 at Buffalo (3/5)
Buffalo 9 7 16 11 vs Akron (3/5)
Ohio 4 12 9 18 vs KSU (3/5)
Miami 3 13 7 20 vs BGSU (3/5)
Kent State 3 13 6 21 at Ohio (3/5)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost Next Game
Central Michigan 15 1 19 9 vs WMU (3/5)
Toledo
8 8 13 14 vs EMU (3/5)
Western Michigan
8 8 12 15 at CMU (3/5)
Ball State
7 9 12 15 vs NIU (3/5)
Eastern Michigan
6 10 16 11 at Toledo (3/5)
Northern Illinois
5 11 9 17 at BSU (3/5)

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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 Western Michigan
vs. 12 Kent State
1st 8 Eastern Michigan
vs. 9 Northern Illinois
1st 7 Ball State
vs. 10 Ohio
1st 6 Toledo vs. 11 Miami
ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
2nd 5 or 12 WMU or KSU vs. 8 or 9 EMU or NIU
2nd 7 or 10 BSU or Ohio vs. 6 or 11 Toledo or Miami
ROUND SEED TEAM VS. SEED TEAM
QF 4 Western Michigan
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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