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MAC Thursday Night Regular Season Wrap
The bracket is all set…almost. Everything has been decided besides the #1 and #3 seeds. We’ll know that after Kent State/Akron tomorrow night. But all of the first round matchups and other seeds are in place after the MAC’s penultimate night of the regular season.
Game of the Night
Central Michigan 56, Eastern Michigan 55
The Eagles had multiple chances. A win would have gotten them the MAC West title and a first round bye. They just could not capitalize.
Justin Dobbins made the score 55-50 with a layup with 2:32 left. But Eastern did not score again, as Central put up the game’s final six points. With the score tied at 55 and 44 seconds left, Jalin Thomas made one of two free throws. It gave Central Michigan a one-point lead but Eastern the ball back with an opportunity to win.
Carlos Medlock missed a three with 21 seconds left but Brandon Bowdry was fouled after getting the rebound. He went to the line with a chance to make one free throw to tie the game or two for the lead.
Bowdry missed both.
Jordan Bitzer went to the line with 14 seconds left to extend the lead and missed on a one-and-one. So, another chance for the Eagles, down just one. But Carlos Medlock’s turnover squelched that. After another missed Bitzer free throw, Eastern missed a desperation three as time expired.
Central did everything it could to give this game away but Eastern could not seize the opportunity. Now, Central is the MAC West champion and Eastern will be playing Sunday.
Miami 73, Buffalo 62
Buffalo’s defense failed it again when it needed it. Miami scored 70+, shooting 50% from the field. Kenny Hayes and Julian Mavunga each scored 17.
Buffalo held a 37-24 rebounding advantage but that was not enough to make up for an overall poor performance. The Bulls made just two of twelve three-point tries. Though Michael Watt had a strong game hitting eight of twelve shots for 17 points, Buffalo’s leader Rodney Pierce was not at his best. He scored 16 but was 3-13 from the field.
Buffalo could not win with control of its own outcome but will still get a bye at 9-7 due to the ranked team tiebreaker.
Ohio 82, Bowling Green 60
A blowout broke out in Athens Thursday night. It was 33-15 at half and finished with an even bigger spread.
In a battle for a chance at the 8 or 9 seed, Ohio took control. Armon Bassett was the leading scorer with 17 points. However, it was freshman D.J. Cooper who shined again. Cooper has come close to a triple-double before and was very close again. He had the assists (11) and rebounds (10) for it but this time not the points (6). Either way, Cooper is quite the all-around player for a freshman.
Bowling Green and Ohio will both be on the road Sunday, with the Falcons as the 10 seed and the Bobcats as the 9.
Western Michigan 67, Ball State 52
David Kool scored 16 points to end his illustrious career on a high note. Western won the rebounding battle and forced six more turnovers in the win.
Ball State could not find its offensive stroke again, a game after scoring just 42 against Toledo. Randy Davis scored 23 points but he was the only Cardinal with double-digit points.
The Cardinals now go into the MAC Tournament with three straight losses. They went from having a chance at the two seed going into the night to finishing in the 8 th spot at the end.
Western Michigan moves up to the 6 th seed and will play Northern Illinois.
Northern Illinois 60, Toledo 58
It was the only game of the night that had no bearing on the final MAC standings. Northern Illinois was locked into the 11 th seed and Toledo the 12 th.
A game after getting its first MAC win and preventing record inferiority, Toledo came close to continuing a streak…in the positive direction.
It was close throughout the end but Toledo’s youth showed through. Freshman Malcolm Griffin had an impressive night with 19 points but his three turnovers in the final 1:14 were detrimental.
Xavier Silas tipped the ball in with two seconds left for two of his 24 points and a game-winning basket for the Huskies.
Friday Night Preview
Kent State at Akron
It’s the feature game; national television, primetime on ESPN2; a heated rivalry.
Oh, it’s also for the conference regular season title.
The conference’s final game comes down to by far its two best throughout this regular season. Both have byes in the bag but the winner will be the top seed, while the loser must settle for third. Both are 22-8 overall, 12-3 in conference. You couldn’t ask for a more even matchup.
Since the late stages of January, each has only lost one MAC game, so both come into this game searing.
Kent State’s Justin Greene has really become a top-flight player. But look for Akron to be out for revenge from its earlier loss to the Flashes and Chris McKnight to fight for a senior night victory.
By Connor Kiesel