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MAC Wrap - Week 5
Akron 75, Ball State 70- In Ball State’s third overtime game in the last five, the Cardinals could not prevail. Jarrod Jones hit a big jumper to send the game to the extra period but once there, it was Akron’s Brett McKnight who hit a three that gave the Zips their winning basket.
Western Michigan 65, Bowling Green 64- David Kool did indeed take over the end of this game, scoring the Broncos’ last seven points, including the game winning layup with four seconds on the clock. Kool stole the ball from Joe Jakubowski and laid it in to finish the Falcons’ day.
Kent State 68, Central Michigan 63- Justin Greene had another studly night, scoring 22 points, helped out too by Chris Singletary’s 19 points on 7 of 8 shooting. Central’s D is usually average but it was not good here, allowing Kent State to hit 58% from the field and over 54% from three.
Miami 74, Northern Illinois 69- The Huskies overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to tie the game a 57 at the 7:13 mark of the second half. But Miami shot 12 of 19 from beyond the arc (63%), which was too much for a Northern group that converted only 38% of its shots.
Eastern Michigan 70, Ohio 61- Carlos Medlock and Brandon Bowdry put up gaudy stats to vault past Ohio. Medlock scored 31, while Bowdry put up another double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds). Eastern outrebounded Ohio by 11 and got to the free throw line ten more times.
Buffalo 65, Toledo 59- Toledo had a chance, had a second-half lead, but could not close the deal. Up one at the half and seven a few minutes into the second, the Rockets could not hold on, again coming out on the losing end. Buffalo got the win but its fundamental problem, defense, still persists. Toledo is not a good offensive team and the Rockets shot 51% from the field, better than the Bulls.
Weeknight Spotlight Game
Akron 56, Central Michigan 52
Two in the top half of the MAC standings dueled Tuesday night, with defense (or maybe just poor shooting) reigning supreme.
Central Michigan shot 28% from the field and made just 18 of 63 shots. First, that’s a lot of shots. And gosh, that is an ugly figure. We know Central is not a great shooting team (second to last in the league) and Akron is a very good defensive team but just 18 made field goals on over 60 shots? Ouch.
Despite that, the Chippewas were well in this game. The game went into the half tied at 27. But early in the second half, Central went on a 10-0 run to take a 41-30 lead. The Chippewas then held the lead all the way to 1:08 left in the game. Brett McKnight’s layup tied the game at 52. Akron would take the lead on a series of free throws and that was game.
Akron may have won this game in large part due to a turnaround at the stripe. The Zips have been struggling mightily with free throws but hit 12 on this night. Humpty Hitchens and Steve McNees scored the final four points of the game at the line. While Akron was 100% from the line, Central made just eight of its 16. That difference and Akron’s rebounding advantage (37-28) made up for 17 Akron turnovers to 8 from Central.
Jordan Bitzer was once again the leader for the Chippewas, with Robbie Bitzer his wingman. The two combined for 33 points, more than half of the total output. The two make up the MAC’s best backcourt but they can only do so much. Outside of Bitzer and Harman, Central went 5-30 from the field. That is abysmal. The role players need to contribute more or defenses will just focus on Harman and Bitzer and make it tough for Central to succeed.
On the Akron side, any number of frontmen can emerge. Here it was McNees who had a nearly perfect game. Perfect 4-4 from the field (all threes) and 4-4 from the line. Two assists to no turnovers. McNees is not always perfect but you could not ask for anything more from the senior guard than this performance.
Brett McKnight, who is the centerpiece of Akron’s offense, was suspended for this game. McKnight takes a third of Akron’s shots but the Zips found a way to win without him.
Other Weeknight Action
Ohio 90, Western Michigan 74
Ohio rebounded from a road loss at Eastern Michigan to pick up the W over Western. Tommy Freeman was on fire, setting career-highs with six three-pointers and 30 points. The Bobcats shot 60.9% from three. Western finished at just 34.8%.
As is becoming a trend, the opponent’s typical leading player did not lead the way against Ohio. David Kool scored 19 but it was Martelle McLemore who paced the Broncos with 24 points. These 6-4, 6-5 forwards are continually putting up strong showings against the Bobcats.
Take note for Ohio: D.J. Cooper is going to have a triple-double and it’s not too far off the horizon. Against Western, he had 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. So, he was a rebound and two assists off. The freshman does a bit of everything and just seems to always be around the ball.
Bowling Green 73, Northern Illinois 69
The dry spell continues for Northern Illinois. The Huskies are in an absolute freefall. Seven straights losses now after a 4-0 MAC start.
The Huskies looked good in the first half, going into the break up nine. They led the game 65-64 with 1:34 left. But again, defense proved to be the undoing. Erik Marschall scored on an easy dunk to take the lead and Northern never led again.
After scoring just 27 in the first half, Bowling Green put up 46 in the second period. Leading scorer Xavier Silas contributed just 10 but Sean Kowal and Michael Patton went for 18 and 17 points, respectively, carrying the load off the bench.
Bowling Green’s Scott Thomas was the game’s top scorer, with 26 points on 9-15 shooting. Oits Polk had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
A few big differences in the second half:
- Bowling Green improved from 46.2% FG to 57.7%
- The Falcons limited turnovers, from 14 in the first to five in the second
- Free throw attempts: BG went to the line four times in the first, 21 in the second
Miami 55, Toledo 47
Toledo is getting better but the young Rockets are not quite there yet. For the second straight game, they held a halftime advantage. Once again, they lost, their 15 th in a row.
Miami shot just 32 percent in the first half, netting itself only 18 points. It more than doubled that number in the second half, raising its percentage to 68.8%. Kenny Hayes scored 14 and Antonio Ballard 13.
Justin Anyijong was back for the Rockets, and looked good putting up 13 points in the first half. However, he could only muster three in the final period.
Kent State 76, Ball State 42
Kent State is rolling and they just stomped on the Cardinals.
The Flashes’ defense only allowed Ball State to shoot 28.8 percent from the field. No Cardinal finished in double-digit points. Jarrod Jones was 3-12 and the Ball State stagnant offense reemerged.
Kent State completely dominated, only trailing early on at 2-0. From there on it led the whole way, up by as many as 38. With the score getting so out of hand, Kent State got to spread the wealth, with 11 Flashes scoring over ten points.
This is Kent State’s eighth straight win, as it is the MAC’s best right now. The defense is strong and Kent State is solid at the guard spots and inside, which not too many in the MAC can boast.
Buffalo 84, Eastern Michigan 67
It was another MAC blowout, and a much needed win for Buffalo.
The Bulls’ defense was still not great but their offense was firing on all cylinders (66.7% shooting). Rodney Pierce scored 27 for Buffalo, while Brandon Bowdry had 26 for Eastern Michigan in 24 minutes.
With the way its defense plays, Buffalo needs this offensive output most nights. But, realistically, 73.9% shooting in the second half is not going to happen every game. The Bulls need to find a balance.
Ohio 89, Central Michigan 76
A game that was close at halftime became a runaway in the second half. Central lost its three-point lead and Ohio extended its own lead further out.
The Bobcats got to the line 48 times; yes, 48.That means Ohio was the aggressor and really drew the contact. DeVaughn Washington went to the line 19 times and made 14, defying his occasional struggles there. He finished the night with 24 points. Armon Bassett scored 25.
Robbie Harman scored a career-high 31 points, converting nine three-pointers. He is now Central Michigan’s all-time three leader.
Once again, we see Ohio win a high scoring game. When it can make the game a shootout rather than a grind it out game in the 50s or low 60s, the Bobcats have been having much more success.
MAC Beast of the Week
Brandon Bowdry, Eastern Michigan
Averages this week: 21.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 18-26 shooting
Wait, really?: Forget about two front teeth; all Toledo wanted for Christmas was a good ‘ole win. The Rockets are still waiting for Santa’s sleigh to arrive. They have not won a game since December 12 th, a one-point victory over IPFW.
MAC Weekend Forecast
It’s a light weekend with only two MAC games on the slate. So, you’ll have time to enjoy the MAC games, the start of the Olympics and Valentine’s Day too! Oh boy!
Kent State at Buffalo- Yes , Kent State is on a roll. Yes, Buffalo’s defense has been a mess. But for some reason I see Buffalo’s offense outdoing Kent State and getting a bit of a surprise home win.
Ball State at Northern Illinois-Maybe returning to MAC West play will help the reeling Huskies. I think Xavier Silas will have a big day and spark the Huskies to a much needed win.
By Connor Kiesel