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MAC Women's Basketball Roundup: Thursday, January 23rd

Bowling Green defended their home turf well, but the big story from Thursday night's games was the re-emergence of Buffalo, Akron and Toledo -- teams that were all expected to do well but had disappointed early in conference play.

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(Click links for box-scores.)

BOWLING GREEN 71, Eastern Michigan 57

The Bowling Green Falcons stormed to a 15-0 run after halftime and pulled away from a pesky Eastern Michigan squad for a 71-57 victory at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.

The Falcons scored the first points of the game on a Miriam Justinger layup with 1:57 elapsed from the game clock. Outside of two brief ties early in the first half, BGSU would hold the lead for the remainder of the game. However, the Eagles would not let Bowling Green gain a sizable lead. They stayed within two possessions for all but one minute of the first half, and BGSU's biggest lead at any point in the half was just seven points. By halftime, the difference was just 28-23.

EMU's freshman sensation Janay Morton was the star of the first half. She connected on all five of her field goal attempts, including one from three-point range, and she was also 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Her 14 points were six more than any other individual. BGSU out-shot EMU 40 to 33.3 percent but was just 2-for-13 when shooting threes. The Falcons made up for that difficulty with an 18-4 edge in points in the paint.

The second half was a far different story. Alexis Rogers (7) and Jillian Halfhill (4) came out with a combined 11 points to begin the second half as the Falcons started with a 15-0 run during the first 4:50 of the period. Eastern Michigan missed their first eight shots of the half, and when the burst ended, BGSU held a 20-point lead (43-23). From that point, the Eagles never trailed by fewer than 14 points, and they trailed by at least 18 until less than four minutes remained in the game. The Falcons led by as much as 25, but several Falcon turnovers caused by EMU's full-court press late in the game allowed the Eagles to cut the margin to a final 14 points.

As well as Morton played in the first half, she was equally ineffective in the second. She made just one of seven shots and none of her five three-pointers, and she ended the half with just four points. Freshman teammate Cha Sweeney picked up the slack with 15 points after halftime. Rogers (18) and Deborah Hoekstra dominated the second half for the Falcons with a combined 31 points. They made seven of their nine field goals, including three of four from long range, and they combined to go 14-for-17 from the free throw line.

Each team ended the game with 22 field goals, but BGSU took far fewer attempts (48 to 62) to get there. However, the difference in the game was primarily at the free-throw line. Bowling Green made 22, while the Eagles were held to just nine. The Falcons had three players who scored in double figures, led by Rogers' 24. Rogers also contributed seven rebounds, as well as a block and a steal. Morton and Sweeney each finished the game with 18 points for the Eagles.

BGSU improves to 15-3 overall and 5-1 in the MAC. They will host Northern Illinois on Sunday. Eastern Michigan drops to 4-2 in the MAC and 12-5 overall. Their next game will be at home against Akron, also on Sunday.


Are the Buffalo Bulls "back"? That certainly appears to be the case. Buffalo continued to rebound from a slow start to the MAC season with their third straight win by capturing a 63-52 decision over the Northern Illinois Huskies in DeKalb, Ill. on Thursday night. Buffalo held NIU to just two field goals and six total points during a 13 minute stretch in the second half, during which they went from trailing by three to winning by 16.

The first half did not feature much scoring, but it did not lack for compelling action. The half featured six different ties and four lead changes, as momentum see-sawed from one team to the other. In the first 12 minutes of the half, there were ties at 2, 4, 9, 11 and 17, and both teams were playing at a good pace. A jumper by Mackenzie Loesing with 8:20 left in the half provided the game's sixth tie, at 19-19, but then scoring almost entirely stopped for the rest of the half.

Four minutes elapsed from the game clock before another point was scored, and each team sank just two field goals during the half's final eight minutes. A Jasmine Harris layup gave NIU a brief 21-19 lead with 4:00 left in the half, but a three from Sloane Walton and a layup from Christa Baccas put Buffalo ahead 24-21. In the half's final 2:25, only NIU's Natecia Augusta scored, and that came with just 0:13 remaining. Her layup sent the teams to the break with Buffalo ahead 24-23.

Buffalo was cold to begin the second half and did not make a field goal for over four minutes. Meanwhile, NIU was creating points by earning two trips to the free throw line in the half's first two minutes. They scored six in a row to build a 29-24 lead, which would be their biggest of the game. Two free throws by Jenna Rickan stemmed the tide, and a layup by Kristen Sharkey with 15:50 left finally woke Buffalo up.

Beginning with those four points, Buffalo dominated a 16-minute span of the second half during which they outscored NIU 35-12 and held them to just four field goals. The primary thrust of this run came late in the period. NIU's Jenna Thorp cut Buffalo's lead to just five (42-37) with 6:26 left. Buffalo then out-scored the Huskies 17-4 over the next five minutes to build an 18-point lead (59-41). Sharkey and Loesing led this charge with six and five points, respectively. NIU made a trio of three-pointers in the final 30 seconds to cut the final deficit to 11.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well, but Northern Illinois in particular had a bad night. The Huskies made just 17 of 60 shots (28.3%). Buffalo shot only 35.8 percent and sank only 19 field goals, but they were able to get to the free throw line frequently in the second half. In fact, they finished the game with more free throws made (20) than field goals. For Buffalo, Loesing finished the game with 15 points, while Sharkey provided 14 points and nine rebounds. Christa Baccas scored just four but led the team with 10 rebounds. NIU was led in scoring by Thorp, who finished with a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds).

Each team is now among a group of six squads with 3-3 records in MAC play. Buffalo's overall record is now 10-7, and they play another road game on Sunday, this time at Ball State. NIU is 7-9 overall, and they travel to Bowling Green on Sunday.

AKRON 80, Ohio 56

The Akron Zips posted a statement win on Thursday night against the Ohio Bobcats to show that they have fully recovered from the debacle one week ago in Oxford. The Zips led -- and also dominated -- throughout an 80-56 victory.

The Zips scored the game's first nine points, starting with two free throws by Rachel Tecca just 1:15 into the game. While Akron was building an early lead, Ohio missed their first seven shots and turned the ball over twice during the game's first four and a half minutes. The poor shooting would be a harbinger of things to come, as the Bobcats made just 20 percent (7 of 35) of their shots during the first half. As a result, Ohio would never trail by fewer than five points after falling behind 9-0.

Despite the shooting troubles, the Bobcats were able to stay within shouting distance for a while. A three by Kat Yelle cut Akron's lead to just 22-16 with 8:15 left in the half. Unfortunately for Ohio, that's when their shooting went completely cold. During that final 8:15, the Bobcats were just 2-for-13 from the floor with four turnovers. Akron out-scored Ohio 14-5 in that span, with Hanna Luburgh (6) and Carly Young (4) providing most of the damage. At the half, the Zips led 36-21. Luburgh led all scorers with 16 points during the first 20 minutes.

The Bobcats' 16-point deficit as the second half began would be their closest point of the final period. Just 2:41 after halftime, Akron's Hannah Plybon connected on a three to give the Zips a 44-24 advantage, and their lead would remain in the 20 to 26 point range for the remainder of the game.

Akron's shooters were very good throughout the night. They made 45.3 percent of their shots overall and 50% in the second half. They were also a respectable 5-for-14 from three-point range and had an excellent night (17-for-21) from the free throw line. Ohio's shooting woes continued in the second half, and they finished the game with a success rate of just 23.4%. The Bobcats made only two of 24 three-point attempts, including one of 15 in the first half. The final score could have been worse, but Ohio did a lot of work at the charity stripe (24-for-28).

Luburgh finished the game with 28 points on 11-for-20 shooting, while Plybon scored 16. Rachel Tecca was relatively quiet with just two field goals, but she did sink nine free throws to finish with 13 points. She also pulled down nine rebounds. Quiera Lampkins put together a double-double for Ohio with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but it took her 17 shots to get those 13 points. Lampkins and Kiyanna Black combined to make just five of their 28 shots. Kat Yelle led the Bobcats with 14 points.

Both teams are now tied for second place in the MAC East with 3-3 conference records. Akron improves to 9-8 overall and will now travel to Eastern Michigan for a Sunday game. Ohio drops to 8-9 overall and will host Toledo on Sunday.

TOLEDO 73, Ball State 61

The Toledo Rockets cruised to an important 73-61 division win over the Ball State Cardinals on Thursday night at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio. The victory pushed Toledo back to .500 in league play and placed them with five other teams at 3-3.

Katie Murphy scored 18 seconds into the game for Ball State to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. It would be their only lead of the game. Ana Capotosto converted a layup just 21 seconds later to tie the game, and she sank a three on the next possession to give the Rockets a lead they would not relinquish. After that first field goal, Ball State would not make another shot for seven and a half minutes, as Toledo built a 13-5 lead. A three and a layup by Shelbie Justice got Ball State within five on two occasions midway through the first half, but Elena de Alfredo answered Justice's second basket with a three. The three gave Toledo an eight-point lead with 9:28 left in the first half, and the Cardinals would get no closer. Toledo continued to build the lead, and a last-second layup by Brianna Jones gave them a 35-21 edge at the half.

In the second half, Ball State was able to get the Toledo lead down to 10 with a Brandy Woody three with 16:18 remaining, but the Cardinals then went cold and failed to score another point for the following 6:30 of the game. That allowed the Rockets to stake a 17-point edge, and they still led by 15 with 5:13 left. However, Ball State would not go quietly. They went on a 9-2 run to close the gap to 60-52, and there were still more than two minutes on the clock. Toledo got the job done from the free throw line, though, as they made nine during the game's final two minutes, and those clutch shots allowed the Rockets to walk away with the win.

Both teams shot roughly similar percentages, but Toledo's rebounding advantage was huge. The Rockets pulled down 40 rebounds to just 29 for Ball State, and 19 of the Rockets rebounds were on offense. Individually, both teams featured balanced scoring. Inma Zanoguera led the Rockets with 17 points, and she also contributed seven rebounds and four assists. Andola Dortch scored 15 points, all of which came in the second half. Capotosto added 14 points and sank four three-pointers. Ball State was led by Nathalie Fontaine, who scored 17. Brandy Woody added 15 points and seven rebounds, and both Shelbie Justice and Brittany Carter also scored in double figures.

Each team now owns identical records of 8-9 overall and 3-3 in MAC games. Toledo travels to Athens, Ohio on Sunday for a game against the Bobcats, while Ball State returns home to play Buffalo on Sunday.


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

Conference Conference Overall Overall
Eastern Division Won Lost Won Lost Next Game
Bowling Green 5 1 15 3 vs NIU (1/26)
Buffalo 3 3 10 7 at BSU (1/26)
Akron 3 3 9 8 at EMU (1/26)
Ohio 3 3 8 9 vs Toledo (1/26)
Miami 1 5 5 12 vs KSU (1/25)
Kent State 0 6 3 14 at Miami (1/25)
Western Division Won Lost Won Lost
Central Michigan 6 0 10 8 at WMU (1/25)
Western Michigan
4 2 8 9 vs CMU (1/25)
Ball State
3 3 8 9 vs Buffalo (1/26)
3 3 8 9 at Ohio (1/26)
Northern Illinois
3 3 7 9 at BGSU (1/26)
Eastern Michigan
2 4 12 5 vs Akron (1/26)