Notes from a heavy MACsketball day. The men went 2-2 and the women fared 5-1.
VCU 76, Akron 75 (OT) — Oh, what a heartbreaker. Even worse than Buffalo-Temple last night. UA was feeling good about themselves. Their basketball team was not only starting to play better, but they just hired Terry Bowden in football (who made an appearance at this game) and had a chance to beat a Final Four team from last year, led by Shaka Smart, who previously was an Akron assistant. And they ALMOST pulled it off, but a last-second VCU layup wiped off those hopes.
Nikola Cvetinovic seems to be playing better at the right time, finishing with 21 points on 12 shots and adding seven rebounds and four assists. Zeke Marshall had the seemingly go-ahead free throws in the final 15 seconds and finished with 10 points and six blocks. Nick Harney also saw time after missing five games to suspension.
Also, Keith Dambrot has the voice of a 22-year-old.
Kent State 69, Arkansas State 54 — That puzzling two-game losing streak in Logan, Utah is now a distant memory. KSU needed to pound a weaker team on the road to reestablish their confidence and I'd say they did so. Randal Hold led the Flashes in scoring with 17 points but Carlton Guyton had a better overall game: 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
But senior Patrick Jackson wins the Golden Hack award, though: three minutes, five fouls, one missed shot, NO OTHER STATS.
Miami 73, William & Mary 69 — It was another close one decided on the final possession, but W&M is not very strong. They have one DI win — a one-point victory at Liberty, the second time they played 'em this year. Their first game was a 75-72 loss, so with 69 points you could say this was W&M's best non-Liberty performance of the year. For a 2-12 team.
MU will win games if Julian Mavunga has help. Mavunga had just 16 points but Quinten Rollins and Josh Sewell both added 18 apiece. And what the RedHawks do better than any other MAC team is shoot free throws. And they got to the line for 26 shots, making 21 of them. That was your difference.
As a team Akron shot a wonderful 10-for-20 from the 3-point line, which is much of the reason they stayed in the game for the entire 40. But those 20 turnovers didn't help much.
Santa Clara 75, EMU 55 — I feel bad for these undermanned teams trucking it all the way to the California coast only to get crushed. But while the Eagles did well defensively at the half (just a 25-18 deficit), SC poured in 50 points and ran away with this one. Outrebounded, outshot, outeverythinged. (Although EMU had fewer turnovers.) Darrell Lampley, true to form, led EMU with 14 points.
In the women's games:
CMU 72, College of Charleston 69 (OT) — It's not often you have a two-point lead with 3:23 to play, do not score for the remainder of the period, and win. That's what the Chips did, though, missing four baskets, two free throws and committing two last-minute turnovers but the C of C could only force a 60-60 overtime.
Jas'Mine Bracey had six of her 18 points in the overtime frame and also brought down 15 rebounds, (11 offensive). Jordan LaDuke had a pretty sweet game too, going for 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The game was part of the Tulane/DoubleTree Classic, which CMU took third place in. They also creep right back over .500.
EMU 66, Saint Louis 55 — The well-traveled Eagles also notch a tourney win, this one in Seattle, where the Sonics no longer roam. The game was tied at halftime but pulled ahead in the final 10 minutes thanks to four players finishing in double-figures and stealing the ball 15 times as a team. Tavelyn James clocked in with a standard 19 points but Desyree Thomas had 10 points, seven steals, six assists and four rebounds.
BGSU 60, Wyoming 53 — And that catastrophe of a football game has been rightly avenged! I can always count on the BG women to do things like this. The lone eligible senior Jessica Slagle topped all Falcons with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Falcons had a comfortable-enough lead for much of the second half on the road. But true to form, the Falcons are playing wonderful defense, keeping teams to a MAC-best .735 points per possession (30th in the country).
Buffalo 66, New Jersey Institute of Technology 53 — New Jersey is not a high land, but they are the Highlanders. It's this incongruity that may have helped the Bulls notch another decent OOC victory to improve to 5-8. Nytor Longar had 19 points and eight rebounds. As a team UB outrebounded NJIT 45-34, including 18-8 on the offensive glass.
OHIO 75, George Mason 59 — An impressive out-of-conference victory for the inconsistent Bobcats, who finish at 7-7 on the calendar year. They took good shots, made them, and were led by a quintet of double-figure scorers. Tenishia Benson had the most with 14 points, while Ashley Fowler added 13. Their next game will be at home against Buffalo to open MAC play.
Eastern Illinois 72, NIU 62 — EIU has a pretty solid team, so this isn't a bad loss. But NIU was beat on the offensive glass (12 to 4) and had twice as many turnovers (22 to 11). Courtney Shelton guided the Huskies with 22 points on 11 shots.
Today's men's games:
7:00 p.m. — WMU at Duke (ESPN2/ESPN3)
7:00 p.m. — Kennesaw State at OHIO (MAC Sports Livestream)
Today's women's games:
5:30 p.m. — Kent State at Bethune-Cookman
6:15 p.m. — EMU at Seattle (Holiday Hoops Tourney)
7:00 p.m. — Chicago State at Akron
7:00 p.m. — WMU at American
8:30 p.m. — Buffalo at Iowa State (Cyclone Challenge)