The 2018 Mid-American Conference tournament presented by visitmyrtlebeach.com began on Monday with eight teams looking to punch their tickets into Quicken Loans Arena and the quarterfinals on Thursday joining Buffalo, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, and Ball State
The theme song in the four arenas should have been the old Bangles hit tune ‘Manic Monday’ as of the four games two ended on the last possession, one ended in overtime, and the fourth was pretty much a surprise
Here is a look at those four first round games
KENT STATE 61 – NORTHERN ILLINOIS 59
For the fourth consecutive game, a Golden Flashes game came down to one-possession tilt or went into overtime. It was a game that neither team led by more than four points in the final eight minutes. The lead changed hands ten times and was tied on seven occasions.
This one with Huskies was another one of those back and forth affairs and was not decided until Kevin Zabo hit a running layup as time expired to give KSU a 61-59 victory. Zabo led all scorers in the contest with nineteen points adding three rebounds, four assists, and two steals to his CV. Adonis De La Rosa was the only other KSU player in double figures with ten and eight boards.
The Huskies were led by Levi Bradley who scored eighteen points all of them coming in the second half while Eugene German, the MAC’s leading scorer in the regular season had only ten in the game and one in the second half.
KSU avenged their loss to NIU on the opening night of the MAC season and heads into Quicken Loans Arena in defense of their MAC Tournament title as they face Ball State in Thursday’s quarterfinal. The two teams split their regular season meetings winning on their home courts.
AKRON 79 – WESTERN MICHIGAN 78
The Zips came back from a 23-point first half deficit as well as squandering a seven-point lead in the final minute but found a way to upset the Broncos at University Arena as they got some payback from a loss pinned on them by the Broncos on the opening night of the MAC season back in January.
Akron used a 17-0 late first half run to trail by only four at halftime. Then to build a lead midway through the second half and had a seven-point advantage with 45 seconds remaining. WMU scored eight straight points to take a 78-77 lead with 6.4 seconds remaining on a three by Bryce Moore. Out of timeouts, Virshon Cotton got the inbound pass, driving down the length of the court and was fouled by Thomas Wilder with 1.7 seconds remaining. The freshman hit both free throws to give the lead back to the Zips who had to wait for a final shot was off the front of the rim.
Daniel Utomi led four Akron players in double figures with 26 points (going six-of-nine from three-point range) with four assists and a seasl while Cotton added 21 with seven helpers. Wilder, in his final game in Black and Gold finished with 21 points with seven rebounds and two assists. He will leave Kalamazoo as the second highest scorer in school history with 2,040 points.
Akron heads into the quarterfinals on Thursday night taking the short trip north on I-77 to face Eastern Michigan for the third consecutive time in the tournament. In their regular season meeting in Ypsilanti, the Eagles broke a 15-game losing streak to the Zips with a 63-49 victory
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 81- BOWLING GREEN 77 (OT)
The Chippewas-Falcons battle at McGuirk Arena was truly one as the lead changed hands ten times and tied an additional ten times. The home sent the game into an extra five minutes when Shawn Roundtree came up with a steal and a layup with 40 seconds left.
Then Cecil Williams who led five CMU players in double figures with eighteen points scored the first seven points to seize control. BGSU closed to within three with twenty seconds remaining. However, the Chips held their composure, making their free throws down the stretch to get the victory.
Along with Williams, Luke Meyer had sixteen, Roundtree fifteen, Kevin McKay off the bench added fourteen and David DiLeo had twelve and ten rebounds. After the game, the four seniors were honored after the game as they played at home for the first time since the tragedy in a dorm room on Friday.
The Falcons were led by Justin Turner who capped an absolutely solid first season for the Orange and Black with seventeen points while Antwon Lillard matched him. Demajeo Wiggins had twelve rebounds but only three points. He finished the season as only one of two players to average a double-double (points & rebords) the other being Eastern Michigan’s James Thompson IV.
CMU heads into the quarterfinals where they will face the Eastern Division title holders and top seeded Buffalo Bulls on Thursday afternoon. In their only regular season meeting UB led all the way but only was victorious by six 88-82.
MIAMI 68 – OHIO 55
There is an old saying in sports ‘That is why we play the games’ Friday night the Bobcats defeated the Redhawks for the fourteenth time in the last fifteen games. Four days later again at Millett Hall, this time it was MU that got the better of the Cats which also ended a seven-game losing streak to the men from Athens.
Miami built a fifteen-point first half lead and were never headed. They were led by Darian Ringo, the MAC’s regular-season assist leader, with a season high 21 points with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals while Nike Sibande added thirteen and nine rebounds.
Ohio scored only eighteen points in the first half going 8-of-33 from the field (only hitting one-of-twelve shots from beyond the arc. The closest the Cats would come for the rest of the game was eight points in the final minutes as they were led by Doug Laster with fifteen points.
Miami heads to the North Coast where they will face the second seeded Toledo Rockets on Thursday evening. The West Division Champions beat the Hawks in their only meeting in the regular season in Oxford 73-67
There you have it…The first-round recaps on INSIDE MAC BASKETBALL as the Zips, Chippewas, Golden Flashes, and Redhawks fill out the brackets for the quarterfinals on Thursday
Our next edition will have all the results from the all happenings as one team will emerged victorious on Saturday night and head into the NCAA Tournament
SEE YOU AT THE “Q”