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MAC Women's Basketball Roundup: Thursday, January 9th

NIU almost pulled off a huge comeback upset, Ohio responded well, and Central Michigan made a statement. It was a sweet Thursday of shooty hoops in the MAC.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

(Click links for box-scores.)

WESTERN MICHIGAN 82, Buffalo 72 (Tuesday)

The Broncos improved to 2-0 in the MAC and won their home conference opener on Tuesday night with a 10-point win over the Bulls.  The first half was a fantastic back-and-forth affair.  It featured seven ties and two lead changes, and neither team held a lead bigger than four points.  A Margeaux Gupilan layup with 2:19 left in the half gave Buffalo a four-point edge (27-23), their biggest of the game.  However, WMU closed the deficit to just 29-28 by halftime in a sign of things to come.  The Broncos took the lead for good with just 2:35 gone in the second half, thanks to a Miracle Woods jumper.  WMU went on a 13-5 run over the next four minutes to take a double-digit lead, and Buffalo never got within two possessions after that.

The star of the game was clearly Marquisha Harris, who dominated with 33 points and 13 rebounds.  She had a very quiet first half (five points, two rebounds), but it was her spectacular second half that fueled the Bronco victory.  In the second 20 minutes, Harris poured in 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.  She was 10-for-15 from the floor and 8-for-13 from the free throw line just in the second half.  Miracle Woods wasn't too shabby, either, as she scored 17 and had seven rebounds.  The pair combined for 37 of the Broncos' 54 second-half points.

Kristen Sharkey had a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) for Buffalo, while Jenna Rickan led the team with 15 points.  Mackenzie Loesing did not play as she continued to nurse the injury she suffered last weekend at Bowling Green.  Buffalo outrebounded WMU and had a better field-goal percentage, but the Bulls also committed 22 turnovers.  The Bulls are now 0-2 in the MAC.

TOLEDO 73, Northern Illinois 71

The Rockets held off a furious comeback from the Huskies and may have saved their season in the process.  Toledo fell behind early 6-5 but went on an extended 26-7 run over a stretch of 8:30 in the first half to take a 31-13 lead.  The Rockets cooled off during the final eight minutes of the first half but maintained a 14-point lead (40-26) as the two teams went to halftime.  In the second half, Toledo fought hard to maintain their double-digit edge and led by as much as 18 points with 10:47 left in the game.  The lead was still ten points with 3:35 to go, but NIU's Danny Pulliam hit a jumper to start a 10-2 run for the Huskies.  Ally Lehman's jumper with 1:10 left made the score 70-68.  Just 13 seconds later, Andola Dortch responded with an old-fashioned three point play for Toledo, and her free throw gave the Rockets some breathing room at 73-68.  However, Natecia Augusta pulled off a three-point play of her own for NIU with 37 seconds left, when Toledo missed a shot with nine seconds on the clock, NIU had a chance to tie.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, Pulliam's layup at the buzzer rolled off the rim to preserve Toledo's 73-71 win.

Dortch finished with 17 points, four rebounds and eight assists for Toledo.  Inma Zanoguera added 14 points and five rebounds.  For NIU, Amanda Corral shot 9-for-14 and scored 20 points before she fouled out.  Three others scored in double figures for the Huskies, including Pulliam, who had 13 points and seven assists.

Toledo shot 56.7 percent in the first half but made just five field goals over the final 20 minutes.  In fact, the Rockets attempted only 17 shots in the second half.  Their primary offense after halftime?  Free throws.  The Rockets were 23-for-27 from the free throw line after intermission.

Both teams are now 1-1 in MAC play.

Bowling Green 58, KENT STATE 39

The Falcons continued their defensive dominance with a grind-it-out road victory over the Golden Flashes.  Bowling Green has now won 20 of the last 21 games versus Kent State and has held KSU to fewer than 40 points three of the last four meetings (fewer than 50 points in the last five).  The first half was particularly brutal from an offensive standpoint.  The teams combined to make just 13 field goals, and Bowling Green led at halftime 20-13.  Jillian Halfhill got the festivities started with a jumper in the first minute, and outside of a brief tie a 7-7, the Falcons never relinquished the lead.  BGSU quickly ended whatever hopes the Flashes had after halftime by going on a 17-4 run over the first 6:27.  After taking the 20-point lead (37-17), the Falcons never led by fewer than 14 points.

Halfhill's 15 total points led the Falcons in scoring.  Jill Stein posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and she added four steals.  One positive for the Flashes was their handling of Alexis Rogers; the defending MAC Player of the Week was held to 1-for-6 shooting and just seven points and six rebounds.  No KSU player scored in double figures.  The Flashes were led by Larissa Lurken and Amber Dunlap, who each scored nine.

Bowling Green dominated on the inside.  They held a 39-30 rebounding edge, and outscored Kent State 16-6 in the paint and 14-3 in second-chance points.  Most telling, however, was at the line; BGSU was 18-for-20 from the charity stripe, while KSU attempted just four free throws (and made just one) during the entire game.  The Falcons shot 36 percent from the floor, including 45.8% (11-for-24) in the second half.  They held the Flashes to just 32.7% (16-for-49), although KSU was 6-for-11 from three-point range.

BGSU improves to 2-0 in MAC play (and is the only 2-0 team in the East), while KSU drops to 0-2.

Central Michigan 109, AKRON 83

The Chips beat the Zips on Thursday night in a way that served notice to the rest of the MAC.  Despite what happened during non-conference play, Central Michigan is still a mighty force.  And Akron got every bit of that force on Thursday night.  Akron played well early and actually held a 19-13 lead after the first six minutes, but Central Michigan responded with an 11-1 run to take a lead they would not give up.  The Chippewas slowly built their lead until a Niki DiGuilio gave them an 11-point edge (52-41) just before halftime.  Two Hanna Luburgh free throws for Akron made the halftime score 52-43, but CMU was relentless in the second half.  DiGuilio's three-point play to open the second half gave CMU their double-digit lead back, but Akron played relatively even for the first six minutes.  However, the Chippewas went on another extended run -- this time 17-4 -- and a three by Crystal Bradford gave them a 24-point lead (84-60) with over 10 minutes still left on the clock.  Akron never again got closer than 19, and another 11-1 CMU run late in the half put the finishing touches on a dominating win.

An astounding seven players scored in double figures for CMU, including three off the bench.  Three players (two off the bench) had double-doubles.  Jas'Mine Bracey led with 21 points and 13 rebounds.  She made 10 of her 12 field goal attempts.  Bradford and Taylor Johnson also had double-doubles.  Akron was led, like always, by Rachel Tecca (30 points) and Luburgh (24 points).  Tecca led the team with nine rebounds.

CMU shot 54.8 percent and made eight of 21 three-pointers, and they held Akron to a 40.8 field goal percentage.  Each team made 21 free throws.  CMU also outrebounded Akron 51-31, including 18 offensive rebounds.  They scored 58 points in the paint and held Akron to just 38, and the Chips also had a 24-11 edge in second-chance points.

Central Michigan is now 2-0 in the MAC and has a big game on Sunday at Buffalo, while Akron falls to 1-1.  The Zips play a key game at Bowling Green on Sunday.

OHIO 97, Miami 79

The Bobcats responded to their blowout loss last weekend at Northern Illinois with a thorough demolition of the RedHawks in Athens.  The story of this game was turnovers and three-pointers.  Ohio built a 54-35 lead at halftime thanks almost entirely to those two things.  The Bobcats went 10-for-23 from three-point range in the first half; in fact, they made more than half of their field goals from long distance.  They also created 15 takeaways while giving up just two turnovers of their own.  The result?  Ohio had a 21-2 edge in points off turnovers.  In the second half, the Bobcats cruised to their 97-79 victory.  Overall, Ohio made 13 three-pointers and committed just six turnovers.  They created 25 and had a total edge of 33-4 in turnover-created points.  And Miami was never in this game; Ohio started the contest with an 18-4 run and had another 22-8 burst later in the first half.

Five players scored in double figures for the Bobcats, and they were led by Quiera Lampkins.  Lampkins scored 24 points and added seven rebounds, and she shot 9-for-12 from the floor.  Jillian Spurlock contributed 20 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Miami, and she led the RedHawks in both categories.  Miami actually outshot Ohio (48.9%-44.8%) and outrebounded them 41-29.

Ohio is now 1-1 in MAC play and tied for second in the MAC East, while Miami drops to 0-2.

Ball State 70, EASTERN MICHIGAN 66

The up-and-down season of the Cardinals continued on Thursday night as they earned a road victory in Ypsilanti and handed the Eagles their second loss of the season.  Ball State bounced out to a 20-8 lead after the first ten minutes and held onto a five-point lead (36-31) at the half.  However, EMU came back and actually took a 46-44 lead with 13:09 left in the game.  They held a 52-51 lead with 9:07 remaining, but then Ball State went on an 8-0 run fueled by two three-pointers.  The Eagles kept it close and were within two (68-66) with just 17 seconds left, but they could not complete the comeback.

Brittany Carter led Ball State with 18 points, and that effort included four successful three-pointers.  Shelbie Justice had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Brandy Wood came tantalizingly close to a triple-double.  Wood posted nine points, ten rebounds and seven assists.  Olivia Fouty led the Eagles with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while freshmen sensations Janay Morton and Cha Sweeney each scored 13.

Each team is now 1-1 in the MAC.  Ball State next plays their first home conference game against Kent State, while EMU travels to play Northern Illinois.


Now, here's a look at the updated MAC standings...

Conference Conference Overall Overall
Eastern Division Won Lost Won Lost Next Game
Bowling Green 2 0 12 2 vs Akron (1/12)
Akron 1 1 7 6 at BGSU (1/12)
Ohio 1 1 6 7 vs WMU (1/12)
Buffalo 0 2 7 6 vs CMU (1/12)
Miami 0 2 4 9 at Toledo (1/12)
Kent State 0 2 3 10 at Ball St. (1/12)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost
Western Michigan 2 0 6 7 at Ohio (1/12)
Central Michigan
2 0 6 8 at Buffalo (1/12)
Eastern Michigan
1 1 11 2 at NIU (1/12)
1 1 6 7 vs Miami (1/12)
Ball State
1 1 6 7 vs Kent St. (1/12)
Northern Illinois
1 1 5 7 vs EMU (1/12)