Sorry to hear about Ohio's loss, but so far they're the only ones eliminated. The MAC is now 2-1 in postseason play and we know they're not going to finish with a combined winning record but whatever nyah nyah they're on a roll.
All those travel issues merely delayed the inevitable; Kent State pulled out a tough win at home against a ready team. Indeed, it was Fairfield's super guard Derek Needham that drilled a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to tie the game. Randal Holt's layup with four seconds left proved to be the difference, however.
KSU got sizable contributions from a litany of players; five players scored at least eight points, led by Holt with 18 points on 14 shots. The Flashes controlled the rebounding margin 40-29, 16-7 on the offensive side (Darren Goodson and Mark Henniger had 10 boards each). And Bryson Pope, not known as much of a scorer, had one of his better games with 10 points. Curiously absent from the big contributors was Chris Evans; he did not pay the final 14 minutes reportedly due to an injury and he played just 15 minutes, scoring six points.
Fairfield stayed in the game thanks to some good work inside. Freshman forward Coleman Johnson gave the Stags 18 points on 9-12 shooting and Needham finished with 22 points.
The only puzzling thing was the attendance. Only 1,855 showed up, which was their lowest crowd since December. It ain't even spring break yet!
In CIT's second round, Kent State will play at Loyola, MD. Sunday, March 24 at 3pm.— Kent State Athletics (@KSUAthletics) March 21, 2013
|Final - 3.20.2013||1||2||OT||Total|
|North Dakota St. Bison||32||30||9||71|
|Western Michigan Broncos||28||34||10||72|
You can see why we were confused between the two games. Same night, same gametime, similar scores and the tournament acronyms are basically adjacent to one another in the alphabet. This one had five extra minutes, which helps differentiate the two.
WMU actually had a horrific start, falling behind 15-2 after four minutes. They finally earned their first lead with 11:45 left in the second half, then built an 11-point lead of their own inside of four minutes, but the Bison just kept at it, capped off by a TrayVonn Wright jump shot with two seconds left to force overtime.
Even the small five-minute frame served as a miniature snowglobe replica of the first 40 minutes: NDSU scored the first five points and Western matched. The Broncos led for just 13 seconds in overtime, but they were the correct seconds. Blocks by Connor Tava and Shayne Whittington sealed the game. Tava and Whittington had eight of the team's 10 points as well, and Whittington finished with 18 points and three blocks on the night. Brandon Pokley registered 15 points on just six shots and David Brown added 12.
North Dakota State has probably had it going to MAC schools against their will. Unlike the Akron game, they actually looked good here but just couldn't finish. TrayVonn Wright had a huge game with 23 points and eight rebounds and Lawrence Wright, who was huge for them in the final minutes of regulation, finished with 19. Their point guard Taylor Braun scored 10 points to go with 11 assists and eight rebounds.
Continuing with the them of facing states with sparse populations, the Broncos actually get to visit one this time: Wyoming! That game will be on Monday.