Notes from a very last-minute-y MACsketball day:
AKRON 56, BOWLING GREEN 55 — Not your typical rim-searer of a MAC East game, but Akron continues an impressive streak of eight straight wins in Bowling Green, Ohio, their first in the Stroh Center. It was thanks to Nick Harney's last-second floater which bounced around and fell to put the final score where it layeth; a desperation three-quarters court shot by the Falcons clanked off the rim but it might not've counted anyway. And the game-winner made Harney the game-high scorer ... at 12 points!
With all the dangerous depth and plentiful parity in the MAC East, Akron sits alone at the top at 2-0 for now, but this will soon change as the Zips likely can't keep this charade up forever.
As for Jordon Crawford, this was a devastatingly terrible game for him, especially after sparking a win over OHIO on Saturday. Crawford was 0-for-5 from the line, turned it over nine times [Ed Rooney's voice] and only had three assists. Cameron Black did have a seemingly killer lay-up with 10 seconds remaining in the game, on which he was fouled but missed the free throw. Had he made the freebie we'd be talking about an overtime game. Had Harney's shot missed I'd have made a Cam Black pun in the headline, possibly something like "Orange And Brown And Black All Over" but I'd have certainly given it more thought. Black had 10 points and seven rebounds.
KENT STATE 71, MIAMI 67 — We were OMGthisclose to the Golden Flashes starting the season 0-2 in the MAC. How'd that have warped your senses? With KSU died 67-67 in the final minute Justin Greene was able to nail down a layup (this is the theme of the night) from a sweet Carlton Guyton pass and they held on from there. Greene finished with 23 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Also credit Randal Holt with 16 points, five boards and three steals.
And this was very impressive by MU to stay with Kent State until the final minute on the road. Julian Mavunga didn't even need an otherworldly game to do this: 14 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks was pretty spiffy but Drew McGhee, of all people, doubled his career high with 16 points. Jon Harris also had 12 points. If some of the younger players start contributing a larger piece of the pie, Miami might still be a sixth-place MAC East team but they won't have hard-fought 20-point losses.
OHIO 60, BUFFALO 52 — Looks kinda sorta close but make no mistake OHIO was in control for virtually every time section. In stunning fashion the Bulls were overpowered down low, especially on the boards as the Cats had 16 offensive rebounds, six by Jon Smith. D.J. Cooper led the team with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The Cooper Shooter Counter: 5-for-15, 0-for-3 from three. Nick Kellogg did a bit better launching it toward the rim for 14 points, 4-for-9 from three.
This was a particularly forgettable night for Javon McCrea: eight points, 20 minutes, three fouls. Mitchell Watt was in Mitchell Watt form with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but Zach Filzen was very invisible from the stat sheet and the team accounted for 23 turnovers. Eek. Both team settle in at 1-1 in MAC play.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 60, EASTERN MICHIGAN 56 — There were probably three seconds of drama as EMU, down six in the final minute, was able to pull within two points with 11 seconds to play, but the Chips were able to make their free throws and capitalize on young mistakes. Trey Zeigler had a double-double: 11 points, 13 rebounds, while Derek Jackson led scorers with 15.
Astonishingly, four Eagles had 10+ points, notably Jamell Harris, who rarely gets that many. He had 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
WESTERN MICHIGAN 77, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 68 — Was there ever any doubt? Actually ... yeah, NIU was keeping it painfully close for a while on the road, and we'd have laughed at WMU for probably three months had they dropped this game. But it's pretty easy to be nonchalant and defeat NIU in the 2011-12 time portion of our world's history. Hayden Hoerdemann, WMU's freshman, is seeing increased playing time and making the most of it, leading the game with 18 points. Nate Hutcheson added 17 points, Matt Stainbrook dropped in 16 and Mike Douglas had the rarely discussed triple-half-double: five points, six rebounds, eight assists.
For NIU, Tim Toler was deadly on threes (5-for-6) to finish with 15 points and Abdel Nader contributed his typical 14 points on 11 shots. NIU is still winless in Division I while WMU is now
2-0 1-1 in the MAC West.
Next chunk of games is on Saturday (MAC-Sports.com live feed is probable unless on actual TV):
2:00 p.m. — EMU at Ball State
2:00 p.m. — Toledo at WMU
4:00 p.m. — Ohio at Akron (ESPNU)
4:30 p.m. — CMU at NIU 4:30
6:00 p.m. — Buffalo at Miami (STO) (And probably ESPN3)
7:00 p.m. — BGSU at Kent State