Photo: The Toledo Blade
March Madness Mid-American Conference NCAA Basketball

Inside MAC Basketball 2017-18: Week Nine

Last week in the Mid-American Conference…The Toledo Rockets are within range of the Western Division title Friday with their win coupled with Ball State’s loss giving the Midnight Blue and Gold a two-game lead with two games remaining.

The loss was ended a five-game winning streak for the Cardinals and just their second loss at home this season…Eastern Michigan is making a surge for the fourth and final ‘bye’ into the quarterfinals with a pair of wins giving them five in their last six games


Here is “The week that was” on the hardwoods of the MAC

EASTERN DIVISION:

AKRON:

Tuesday night the Zips traveled to Bowling Green and in a game that saw 12 ties and 27 lead changes the Akron Blue and Gold came up with their first road win of the season 81-79 thanks to layup by Jimond Ivey with eleven seconds remaining after a BGSU miss Lucas Smith grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made one-of-two free throws to give UA their winning margin and a sweep of the season series. Daniel Utomi led the Zips with 29 points going four-of-seven from three-point range. Ivey had 12 with four rebounds and three blocked shots, and Malcolm Duvivier had 14 with four assists to go over the 1,000-point mark for this career

After their thrilling win at Bowling Green on Tuesday the Zips opened a 17-point first half lead on Miami at home. However slowly and steadily the Redhawks chipped away at their deficit tying the score with 1.9 seconds remaining to end the game into overtime. Then fell 64-62 as MU swept the season series. UA led for 41 minutes of the game were led by Utomi who had 24 points with four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Ivey collected his third double-double of the campaign with eleven points, twelve boards and three steals. Eric Parrish came off the bench to add fifteen with four boards. UA hs lost three of its last four games travels to Buffalo on Tuesday to battle the East Division champs the Bulls then return home to end the regular season against arch-rival Kent State

BOWLING GREEN:

The Falcons and the Akron Zips battled Tuesday night at the Stroh Center in a game that saw 12 ties and 27 lead changes. With 20 seconds left BGSU had a one-point but the Zips went ahead to stay on a layup with 11 seconds left. Then added a free throw while the Falcons had two chances to win the game but both shots failed from beyond the three-point line ending the Falcons five-game home winning streak and sending them to a second consecutive loss. Dylan Frye led the Orange and Brown with 24 points including a career best five three-pointers. Demajeo Wiggins collected his thirteenth double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds along with a blocked shot and Justin Turner added 15 with five boards and six assists but it was not enough as the Zips swept the season series from the Falcons

Saturday at Kent State, the Falcons were in another close one this against the Golden Flashes. It was a game that saw sixteen lead changes (six in the final 3:58 and four in the final twenty seconds) The Falcons had the lead until KSU scored the winning points on to free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining to give the Orange and Brown a stunning 65-64 defeat. Turner led the Falcons with seventeen points and three assists. During the second half he passed current Falcons assistant coach Anthony Stacey for the most points by a freshman in BGSU history. Turner has 460 points with two games remaining.

Wiggins collected his fourteenth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds his two free throws with 8.4 seconds remaining gave BGSU their final lead of the game. The Falcons finish the regular season with a trip to Ohio on Tuesday and then East Division holders Buffalo come to the Stroh Center

BUFFALO:

After winning the Eastern Division title on Friday night, the Bulls traveled to Miami on Tuesday and were surprised by the Redhawks 84-81 after leading 41-36 at halftime. The loss was only the third by UB this MAC season (all on the road at KSU & NIU the others). The Bulls made a late surge closing to within four with 22 seconds remaining however the Hawks made four free throws in the final moments to seal UB’s fate. Buffalo as led by Jeremy Harris who had 23 points and eight rebounds while Wes Clark and Nick Perkins each had 18 (along with six rebounds)

The Bulls rebounded from their shocking loss at Miami on Tuesday night returning home to Alumni Arena defeating Ohio 108-82 to sweep the season series from the Bobcats. It was UB’s 21st win of the season and thirteenth in MAC play which tied for the most in a season. The Bulls shots 52.7 percent from the field (eighth straight game they have shot over 50 percent), Perkins led UB with 21 points (going 7-of-10 from the floor) while Dantay Carruthers added 19 as six Bulls scored in double figures. UB has won nine straight in Amherst and six in their last eight games will finish the home schedule Tuesday night against Akron then head to Bowling Green on Friday to play the Falcons

KENT STATE:

The Golden Flashes after beating arch-rival Akron on Saturday traveled to Ohio Tuesday night and were dominated by the Bobcats 88-76 as they absorbed their fifth loss in the last six games. The Cats put the game away early in the second half with a 12-0 run. Adonis De la Rosa led KSU with thirteen points and seven rebounds while Kevin Zabo, Desmond Ridenour, and Jaylin Walker each added twelve

Saturday night in a must-win game against Bowling Green, the Flashes survived a game in which there were sixteen lead changes (six coming in the final 3:58 and four in the final 20 seconds) along with nine ties. It all came down to Jalen Avery who made two free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining as the Flashes moved to 8-1 at home in MAC play. Zabo led four KSU players in double figures with fifteen points and seven rebounds. Danny Pippen added eleven along with school record seven blocked shots in the game KSU blocked 10 Falcons shots as they gained a split of the season series. The Flashes played their home game on Tuesday against Miami then head to Akron to finish the regular season against the Zips.

MIAMI:

Tuesday night the Redhawks came up with their biggest MAC win of the season as they defeated Eastern Division champion Buffalo 84-81 at Millett Hall. Trailing 41-36 at halftime, the home team went on a 16-3 run that paved the way to victory. The win ended a four-game losing streak for MU and gained a split of their season series with UB. Nike Sibansde led the Hawks with 21 points with four rebounds an three blocked shots as well as hitting four free throws in the final 22 seconds to clinch victory. He led four MU players in double figures which included Isiah Coleman-Landis (hitting a career best five three-pointers) and Delonte Brown who had 17 each

Saturday at Akron, the Hawks came back from a 17-point first half deficit shooting just 4-of-24 from the field in the opening first half and trailing for 41 minutes only to come up in overtime and defeat the Zips 64-62 to sweep the two-game series. McLane was the offensive spark for MU with 23 points 21 of which came in the final 25 minutes of play. Darrian Ringo only scored six points but his put back with 1.9 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime then scored four in the extra session. Isiah Coleman-Lands added 11 with three assists and led MU in overtime with six points. This week The Red Hawks return to Northeast Ohio to face Kent State on Tuesday then home to Ohio closing the regular season

OHIO:

The Bobcats gained a split of their season series with Kent State with an 88-76 win Tuesday night at the Convocation Center ending a three-game losing streak to the Golden Flashes and was their third straight win over KSU at home. On the evening, Ohio shot 56 percent from the field as they built a 12-point halftime lead then in the second half used a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach. Jordan Dardis led six Ohio players in double figures with 20 points and four assists

The Cats traveled to East Division titlist Buffalo on Saturday and were routed 108-82 as UB swept the season series while ending Ohio’s two-game winning streak. Ohio was dominated by the Bulls in every stat on the night. The Green and White did have five players in double figures led by Kirk with 21 the sixth time this season he has scored 20 or more in a game with four rebounds and three assists. Mike Laster added 19. Bobcats have Bowling Green at home then at Miami on Friday to end the regular season

WESTERN DIVISION:

BALL STATE:

Tuesday night the Cardinals continued their surge not only in the Western Division but for the top overall spot as well as they picked up their fifth consecutive win and seventh in the last eight games as they defeated Northern Illinois 77-68 at Worthern Arena improving their home mark to 14-1. BSU used a 29-9 spurt over a five-minute stretch of the second half to put the game squarely in their column. Trey Moses led the Cards with 23 points, twelve rebounds and three blocked shots his ninth double-double of the season while Tajai Teague added thirteen with nine boards and a pair of blocked shots. The 13 home wins are the most in Muncie since the 1997-98 season

On Senior Night against Western Michigan, the Cardinals saw their five-game winning streak come to an end as the Broncos came back for an 87-80 victory as they scored 53 points in the second half handing the Cards just their second home loss of the season (the other coming against Buffalo).

Moses collected his tenth double-double of the season with fifteen points, fourteen rebounds and three blocked shots. BSU had a three-point lead at halftime and a ten-point advantage early in the second half but the crowd of 5,924 went home unhappy. BSU ends the regular season with a pair of road games at Central Michigan on Tuesday and then at Northern Illinois on Friday

CENTRAL MICHIGAN:

Tuesday the Chippewas traveled to Kalamazoo to face Central Michigan and fell in overtime to the Broncos 83-81 their fourth loss in the last five games. CMU trailed by two in the final seconds of overtime with a chance to tie or win the game. Their first chance was a short jumper by Shawn Roundtree that was blocked out of bounds then on the inbound Kevin McKay’s three from the corner missed as time expired. McKay & Roundtree led thje Chips with eighteen points each (McKay picked up his third double-double of his career) while David Di Leo had seventeen with four rebounds and three assists

The Chippewas lost their third straight game and fifth in the last six outings on Friday night falling at West Division leading Toledo 89-76 as the Rockets swept the season series. Williams led CMU with 25 points and eight rebounds. Shawn Roundtree added 20 and three assists. CMU trailed by only two early in the second half however UT started to pull away from that point on. The Chips end the regular with two home games as Ball State on Tuesday and Western Michigan Friday come to McGuirk Arena

EASTERN MICHIGAN:

The Eagles welcomed West Division leading Toledo to the Convocation Center and surprised the Rockets 85-79 for their third win in the last five games. EMU has at least one win this season over the two top teams in the West (UT & Ball State) as they came back from a 12-point deficit to gain a split in the season series.

Eagles used an 8-0 run late in the second half to take the lead for good. Elijah Minnie led the Green and White with 23 points with six rebounds and two steals. James Thompson IV matched Minnie with 23 (going 11-of-14 from the field) while Paul Jackson had his first career double-double with 18 points and ten assists.

EMU backed up their win over Toledo with their sixth win in the last seven games as they routed Northern Illinois in their final home game of the season at the Convocation center. EMU gained a season split with the Huskies shooting 55 percent from the field (64 percent in the second half and using a 14-2 run in the second half to seize control. In the game, Tim Bond reached the 1,000-point mark in his Eagles career leading four EMU players in double figures.

In addition, he added six steals to pass Earl Boykins as the all-time steals leader in Hurons-Eagles history. Minnie led the Eagles with 24 points with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Thompson IV who remains the only MAC player to average a double-double during the season had fourteen and eight boards. EMU finishes the season on the road at Western Michigan on Tuesday and then to Toledo on Friday

NORTHERN ILLINOIS:

Tuesday night the Huskies traveled to the hottest team in the MAC Ball State and were singed 77-68 for their fourth loss in the last five games. After starting slowly in both halves, NIU got the game back to where they were within three midway through the second half. However, over the next five minutes, the Cardinals went on a 29-9 run to put the game out of reach. Eugene German led the red, Black, and White with 25 points while Anastasiou Demogerotas added a career high thirteen off the bench

The Huskies traveled to Eastern Michigan on Saturday and were routed by the Eales 83-53 splitting the season series while absorbing their third loss in the last four games. German, who leads the MAC in scoring at 20.5 the only player in the conference averaging 20 points per game led NIU with sixteen points and seven rebounds while Noah McCarty had a career high eleven. The Red, Black, and White finish the campaign with two home games as Tuesday Toledo comes into the Convocation Center with a chance to clinch the Western Division Title and then Ball State comes in on Friday

TOLEDO:

The Rockets traveled up US Route 23 on Tuesday night to Eastern Michigan and were surprised by the Eagles 85-79 as Midnight Blue lost consecutive games for the first time in this MAC season and first overall since mid-December when they fell to Marshall & Wright State both coming at home. Tre’Shawn Fletched led five UT players in double figures with 21 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Willie Jackson collected his first career double-double with eleven points and twelve rebounds

Friday night at home against Central Michigan the Rockets moved closer to the Western Division title with an 89-76 win over the Chippewas ending their two-game losing streak before a national television audience and swept the season series from CMU. The win coupled with Ball State’s loss at home to Western Michigan made the Rockets “Magic Number” for the West title just one.

UT reached the 20-win plateau for the third time in the last five years under head coach Tod Kowalczyk and the 21st time in school history. Fletcher, in a major bid for MAC Postseason honors had 28 points and nine assists. Jaelan Sanford added 23 including a career high seven three-pointers on a night that saw the Midnight Blue and Gold hit 12 shots from the arc and went 55.4% from the field. The Rockets end the regular season with a trip to Northern Illinois on Tuesday then home to Eastern Michigan on Friday

WESTERN MICHIGAN:

The Broncos returned home and ended their two-game losing streak beating Central Michigan 83-81 in overtime. Thomas Wilder’s layup with 20 seconds remaining in the extra period gave the Brown and Gold the lead to stay. However, CMU had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds but Reggie Jones blocked a shot out of bounds then the Chips second chance fell short. Wilder finished up with 27 points, ten rebounds, and nine assists just a helper shy of a triple-double. In addition, the senior scored 11 of the team’s 22 points in overtime. Overall four Broncos scored in double figures including Branon Johnson who had 13 with 12 rebounds and three blocked shots as CMU collected their ninth consecutive victory over the Chips

Friday night, the Broncos traveled to Ball State and surprised the Cardinals with an 82-80 victory ending the Cards five-game winning streak while extending their winning skein to two after two straight losses and have won four of their last six games. WMU shot 51.7 percent from the field ending the game on a 13-3 run as well as making nine free throws in the closing moments. Reggie Jones led four Broncos in double figures Thomas Wilder added 18 going 10-of-13 from the field. WMU matched their win total for all of last season with seventeen and will close the regular season with a pair of home games as Eastern Michigan on Tuesday and Central Michigan on Friday head into Kalamazoo

There you have it…INSIDE MAC BASKETBALL for week number nine…Toledo just needs one win in their final two games to take the crown. There are four teams still with a chance of getting that fourth and final ‘bye’ into the quarterfinals and a trip to Cleveland

SEE YOU COURTSIDE!!!

E.

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