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MAC Basketball Review: Close Game Overload

Saturday's MAC basketball notes and recaps. Six of the 11 games were decided by three points or less:

Ball State 58, Butler 55 — While it's safe to say this is an impressive win for BSU, Butler is not the same team that reached back-to-back championship games. But that doesn't matter in the slightest. Intra-Indiana basketball games are always some of the most entertaining bouts in the country, and the Cardinals get some braggin' rights for a while. This is the part of the season where Jarrod Jones is starting to turn it on. His bucket in the final minute helped seal the win. He had 21 points, including 7-of-7 on free throws. This team is rolling.

Cleveland State 69, Akron 66 — Losses are always bad, but one like this is at least positive for the Zips because they've been languishing a bit lately. Cleveland State may not be ranked yet but they're headed that way and the Zips snatched a lead late and what kept them in this game was drawing fouls and knocking 'em down. Zeke Marshall had 16 points (8-of-10 FT) and eight rebounds. They're getting there, but it seems like when Nikola Cvetinovic has bad games, the team suffers. He had only seven points here.

Kent State 58, Western Carolina 56 – This was Michael Porrini's first game in WCU since transferring from there (or should we say getting kicked off the team). And as has been his tale, he's made the most of his second opportunities. He hit free throws and layups down the stretch to seal this game and finished with 11 points. Carlton Guyton led the team with 13 points. Yes, Chris Evans dunked. And fun WCU fact: Harouna Mutombo, nephew of Dikembe, plays for the Catamounts.

Tennessee State 65, CMU 57 — The Chips had a most-excellent start to the first half, but the middle part of the game just killed 'em. The Tigers at one point had a 43-16 stretch that severely knocked out these road warriors. Trey Zeigler did OK with 17 points on 17 shots and six rebounds. Andre Coimbra amassed 14 points, five boards and three blocks.

Loyola Chicago 57, Toledo 55 — Already discussed. But I'll mention that Rian Pearson had a solid night of 20 points and seven rebounds while Juice Brown got it done with 13 points and seven rebounds. Still, to lose to a 1-7 team at home to a 14-point second-half lead is more demoralizing than any pass off the scoreboard.

Wright State 51, Miami 49 — They were close to a solid win. Julian Mavunga was given the ball early and often, and while his shots from the field didn't land, he made his free throws and finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds. But all it takes is one miss at the wrong time. Mavunga was fouled with two seconds left, down two points. He made one, missed one. WSU rebound and foul, and that was the ballgame. It can't be Mavunga every time. It can't. But that's about all they have right now.

Purdue 61, EMU 36 — Boy, the Eagles know how to keep a blowout look good at half, don't they? They were only down eight to Syracuse and seven to the Boilermakers at half. And then they couldn't keep up any further, especially offensively. But it was not Darrell Lampley but rather co-guard Derek Thompson with the big day: 15 points and seven rebounds. Don't feel bad, Eastern. Western only got 37 on 'em, and NIU could only make it to 34. The Boilermakers are the enervators of the hustle belt, and they are the prime enemy right now.

Illinois-Chicago 62, NIU 55 — Should this have been a Huskies victory? Perhaps — UIC's not that good. But it was yet another case of the team not having enough talent and experience down the stretch to get the victory. They were only down two points inside the 3-minute mark. Antone Christian and Keith Gray each finished with 11 points. Ex-Toledoan Hayden Humes had 10 rebounds.

Buffalo 80, Youngstown State 72 — On a crowded day of games, it was Javon McCrea with what has to be the line of the night: 29 points and 13 rebounds on 14-of-17 shooting. Mitchell Watt doubled up the double-doubles with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Tack on a few Zach Filzen threes, and the Bulls were relentless on those poor Penguins all night despite YSU's 14 3-point makes. Shhh, but Buffalo is 6-2.

Valparaiso 82, BGSU 79 — In all fairness, both A`uston Calhoun and Jordon Crawford had sensational games. But Crawford did miss a few free throws at the end and made a couple odd decisions down the stretch while trying to tie the ballgame late. Calhoun had 25 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Crawford finished with 22 points and five assists. And yet another game BGSU could've won goes down the drain. They're now 5-4.

OHIO 72, Portland 54 — Or maybe this is the stat line of the night: D.J. Cooper notched his first career triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He still took 15 shots, but he's vaunted for a reason: games like this. Cooper sparked a second-half pull-away in which OHIO had just a three-point halftime lead. Also bearing praise is Jon Smith with 11 points and nine rebounds, both season highs for him.

Women's games:

Toledo 81, Cleveland State 42 — Despite injuries, this team is reverting to preseason favorite form. Eleven players got at least 12 minutes of time so nobody particularly stood out. That's WNIT champ depth, baby.

Miami 60, Eastern Kentucky 55 — It's usually easy to make a comeback at home, but the RedHawks were down 11 points in the first half. Kirsten Olowinski had a very impressive 12 points (on 10 shots), 12 rebounds and five assists. Maggie Boyer led MU with 16 points.

Florida State 90, Akron 64 — And what happened here? The upstart Zips kept pace with the Seminoles in the first half then were outdone 54-29. Rachel Tecca finished with 21 points and nine rebounds.

WMU 67, Southeast Missouri State 34 — Despite having an underratedly awesome acronym, SEMO has trouble scoring, and it was evident here. Nice confidence win for the Broncos and hopefully they can patch together some more victories from here on out. Corie Buchanan registered a double-double: 13 points, 10 rebounds. As a team WMU had 16 offensive rebounds. SEMO!

St. Bonaventure 76, Buffalo 45 — More woes for UB. They had an 8-7 lead but that quickly dissipated into a big deficit by halftime. Brittany Hedderson finished with nine points but now has 1,000 for her career.

Today's MAC men's game:

2:00 p.m. — Southern Illinois at WMU

Today's MAC women's games:

1:00 p.m. — Austin Peay at Ball State
2:00 p.m. — Jacksonville at BGSU
2:00 p.m. — #12 Purdue at CMU
2:00 p.m. — Michigan at EMU
2:00 p.m. — San Francisco at OHIO
3:00 p.m. — NIU at Chicago State