(Click links for box-scores.)
Bowling Green 73, BUFFALO 63
The Bowling Green Falcons earned a season sweep of Buffalo when they handed the Bulls a 73-63 defeat at Alumni Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, BGSU clinches no worse than the 4th seed in the MAC tournament and a bye to the third round in Cleveland.
The Falcons were led by Alexis Rogers and Erica Donovan, who scored 25 and 24 points respectively. The pair combined for 49 of BGSU's points and 13 of the team's 32 rebounds. Bowling Green held Buffalo star Mackenzie Loesing to 13 points. Alexus Malone paced the Bulls with 18.
Bowling Green is now 23-3 overall and 13-1 in the MAC. Their next game is Thursday night at home against cellar-dweller Kent State. Buffalo, at least temporarily, drops to 5th place in the overall MAC standings with their loss. They are now 8-6 against MAC foes and 15-10 overall. They resume play on Thursday night at Ohio.
Click HERE for our complete recap of the game.
Central Michigan 85, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 77
The Central Michigan Chippewas defeated the Northern Illinois Huskies 85-77 on Saturday night to clinch their first-ever MAC Western Division championship. The victory also provided CMU with a season sweep of the Huskies and clinched no worse than the 4th seed in the MAC tournament and a bye to the third round.
Much like the first game between these teams, the Huskies built an early lead that the Chippewas had to overcome. The teams traded baskets five times during the first 5:10. The Huskies' defense settled in at that point and held CMU without a score for five minutes. As the Chippewas were going 0-of-9 from the field with three turnovers, NIU scored nine points to build a 19-10 lead.
CMU fought back twice, but the Huskies responded each time. First, the Chippewas cut NIU's lead to three, after which NIU pushed it back to eight. Later, the CMU was able to tie the game, but the Huskies responded with four straight to take a 33-29 lead with 1:28 remaining in the half.
Finally, the Chippewas got scores from Crystal Bradford and Niki DiGuilio and put up the final five points of the half. Their 34-33 lead was their first since leading 10-8 just five minutes into the game.
The lead flipped six times during the opening seven minutes of the second half, but the Chippewas eventually took over, as NIU could not stop their offense. CMU took the lead for good with 13:08 left on an "and-1" layup by Crystal Bradford. The Chippewas' advantage built slowly to as large as 10 points with 6:00 to play, but that's as large as it would get.
NIU was able to get within four after an Ashley Snead jumper, but shortly after, Niki DiGuilio drilled a 3-pointer for a 77-70 lead with 2:27 remaining. The Huskies would not get within four points again, as CMU eventually won by eight.
Central Michigan shot 50 percent (29-of-58) and made more than half (8-of-15) of their 3-pointers, but what really hurt Northern Illinois was the fact that CMU attempted 26 free throws in the second half alone. They made only 17 of those, but the Huskies attempted just 14 for the entire game. NIU did shoot 54 percent from the floor in the second half, but that came on the heels of a 31 percent performance in the first half. The Huskies also made just 2 of 16 from beyond the arc.
The Huskies actually forced 15 turnovers and committed only 11, and they had a 13-9 edge in offensive rebounds. This led to a 37-24 advantage in points off those events, but that could not overcome CMU's shooting.
Bradford had her typical outstanding day for CMU, as she scored 29 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. Jas'Mine Bracey also had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Five players scored in double figures for NIU, and that group was led by Amanda Corral, who scored 23. Jenna Thorp contributed a team-best nine rebounds to go with 12 points.
Central Michigan improves to 13-1 against the MAC and 17-9 overall. They return home on Thursday night for a game against Ball State. Northern Illinois drops to 8-16 overall and 4-10 in the MAC. Their next game is a Thursday matinee at home against Toledo.
Akron 88, OHIO 76
The Akron Zips extended their school-record winning streak to 10 games on Saturday afternoon by posting a hard-fought 88-76 victory over the Ohio Bobcats. The win completed a season sweep of Ohio by Akron and took place at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.
Ohio got the party started with a 3-pointer for Quiera Lampkins and a layup by Destini Cooper for a quick 5-0 lead. However, Akron stormed right back with a pair of 3-pointers from Hanna Luburgh, and they grabbed their first lead of the game (6-5) just 1:56 into the contest.
The next 11 minutes featured four ties and six more lead changes. A 3-pointer from Kiyanna Black gave Ohio what would eventually be their final lead of the day (26-25) with 7:32 left in the 1st half, but one minute later, Akron took the lead for good with a pair of free throws from Rachel Tecca.
Akron still led by just three as the clock ticked under the 3:00 mark, but Ohio missed their final four shots of the half and committed three turnovers. This allowed the Zips to close the half on an 8-0 run, fueled by a pair of scores each from Tecca and Anita Brown. Akron took a 41-30 lead to halftime.
The Bobcats started the second half with a trio of 3-pointers, including two by Black, to get within four points (43-39). They still trailed by just 49-43 four minutes into the half, but Akron then began increasing their lead in stages. First, a 7-0 run pushed the lead to 13 points. Several minutes later, a 15-6 burst increased the Zips' advantage to 19 (76-57) with 6:39 left.
Ohio would not go away, though. Despite the fact that they still trailed by 15 with 4:24 remaining, the Bobcats went on a 12-2 run. That gave them 44 seconds to overcome only a five-point deficit (81-76). Unfortunately, their last four possessions ended on two missed shots and two turnovers, and Akron sank seven of their last eight free throw attempts.
Rebounding (42-41, Akron) and turnovers (12-12) were relatively even, but Ohio earned a 15-6 edge in offensive rebounds and generally made more of extra opportunities. In fact, they scored 20 points off Akron's turnovers while the Zips managed just 10 as a result of Ohio's mistakes. However, this was completely mitigated by Akron's shooting edge. The Zips out-shot Ohio 45.6-38.2 percent. Both teams made seven 3-pointers, but Akron needed 13 fewer shots to get there. Akron also made 29 of 36 free throws, while Ohio attempted 19 (and made only 11).
Akron had five double-digit scorers, but Luburgh was the star. She scored 31 points on 9-of-19 shooting. She made three 3-pointers and was also 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Rachel Tecca added 12 points and a game-best nine rebounds. Kiyanna Black led the Bobcats with 26 points and nine rebounds. Lexie Baldwin also pulled down nine rebounds to go with her 17 points.
Akron's victory moves their record to 17-8 overall and 11-3 in the MAC. If Toledo loses on Sunday, the Zips would have a three-game lead over both UT and Buffalo with four to play. They could clinch a MAC tournament bye to Cleveland as early as Thursday. The Zips' next game is at home on Wednesday against Miami. Ohio falls to 8-17 overall and 3-11 in conference play after their loss. They remain at home for a Thursday night game against Buffalo.
Now, here's a look at the updated MAC standings...
|Eastern Division||Won||Lost||Won||Lost||Next Game|
|Bowling Green||13||1||23||3||vs KSU (2/27)|
|Akron||11||3||17||8||vs Miami (2/26)|
|Buffalo||8||6||15||10||at Ohio (2/27)|
|Miami||3||10||7||17||at KSU (2/23)|
|Ohio||3||11||8||17||vs Buffalo (2/27)
|Kent State||2||11||5||19||vs Miami (2/23)
|Western Division||Won||Lost||Won||Lost||Next Game
|Central Michigan||13||1||17||9||vs BSU (2/27)|
||8||5||13||11||vs WMU (2/23)
||6||7||11||13||vs EMU (2/23)
||6||7||10||14||at Toledo (2/23)
||4||9||14||10||at BSU (2/23)
||4||10||8||16||vs Toledo (2/27)|
Here's how the MAC Tournament bracket would appear if the festivities began today:
|2nd||Buffalo or KSU||vs.||EMU or NIU|
|2nd||WMU or Miami||vs.||BSU or Ohio|
|QF||4||Toledo||vs.||5, 8, 9 or 12|
|QF||3||Akron||vs.||6, 7, 10 or 11|
|SF||1||CMU or BGSU
||vs.||4, 5, 8, 9, or 12|
|SF||2||CMU or BGSU
||vs.||3, 6, 7, 10 or 11|
|Champ.||SF #1 winner||vs.||SF #2 winner|