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MAC MEN'S BASKETBALL

February 17, 2013
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



MAC PRESS RELEASE

Saturday's MAC Men's Basketball Results
Ohio 78, Kent State 75 (OT)
Akron 67, Bowling Green 50
Western Michigan 66, Northern Illinois 58
Buffalo 79, Miami 71
Toledo 73, Central Michigan 64
Eastern Michigan 56, Ball State 50
 
Stories courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments
 
Ohio 78, Kent State 75 (OT)
Boxscore
ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio University men's basketball team (19-6, 10-1) surged past Kent State (14-12, 5-7) in an overtime thriller, 78-75, in the Convocation Center Saturday afternoon on ESPNU.
 
The victory earned Ohio a regular season sweep of Kent State for the first since 2000-01.
 
“We’ve played Kent State twice and both games have been like this," Ohio head coach Jim Christian said. "We were fortunate enough to get the ball last and make a big time shot. It was a great pass by Walt and a great shot by Stevie.” 
 
Sophomore Stevie Taylor’s first field goal was the biggest of the game for the Bobcats. With Ohio down by two with only 13 seconds left on the clock in overtime, the Gahanna, Ohio, product hit a corner three-pointer to give Ohio the lead.
 
 “I just let the play develop," Taylor said. "Coach Christian always says to take what the defense gives you. My role on this team is to step up. I have to back up [D.J. Cooper], and I take pride in that. ”
 
Junior Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio) stole the ball on the ensuing Kent State possession, then received a pass from senior Walter Offutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) on the break to score the game clinching lay-in.
 
With the win, Ohio improved to 10-1 in MAC play and is one win away from tying the program’s best MAC start since 1984-85.
 
Ohio had four players score in double figures, led by Offutt who had 17 points and made 9-of-11 attempts from the free throw line. Senior D.J. Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) battled through illness to post 13 points. Cooper also dished out a game-high seven assists and is now tied for 15th place on the all-time NCAA assists list.
 
During the contest, Cooper passed Taurence Chisholm (Delaware), Scott Machado (Iona) and Frank Smith (Old Dominion) on the all-time assists ledger. He is currently tied with Jim Les (Bradley) for 15th all-time with 884 career assists.
 
Kent State knocked down 49.1 percent of its field goal attempts for the game, including an impressive 16-for-22 mark (.727) in the second half. Senior Chris Evans notched a double-double for the Golden Flashes with a game-high 18 points and 14 rebounds.
 
Ohio made up for Kent’s hot shooting by forcing 22 turnovers while making 11 steals. The Bobcats held a 26-14 lead in points off turnovers for the game and outscored Kent State in the paint, 30-24.
 
The Bobcats came out of the gate hot, leaping out to a 5-0 lead after a dunk by Keely and a 3-pointer from junior guard T.J. Hall (Gainesville, Fla.). The dunk from Keely gave the senior 1,000 points for his career.
 
Keely (1,008), Cooper (1,936) and senior forward Ivo Baltic (1,032) now make up the only class in the history of Ohio men’s basketball to include three,1,000 point scorers.
 
The trio also moved into a tie with Kenneth van Kempen (2007-10) for the most games played (134) in Ohio University history.
 
Kent State hanged tough in the first half, and was able to take a 23-16 lead off a couple of free throws from Melvin Tabb with 5:54 to go in the half. The Bobcats ended the stanza on a 15-3 run and took a 31-26 lead into halftime. A D.J. Cooper buzzer-beating 3-pointer capped off the run for Ohio.
 
Ohio started the second half right where it left off, scoring the first five points of the second half off a couple of nice assists from Cooper. By the time the two-half run had ended, Ohio had outscored Kent State 28-8 and held a 46-31 lead with 15:51 remaining in the game.
 
With Ohio leading 61-50 with eight minutes remaining, Kent State battled back with a 12-0 run to take a 62-61 lead.
 
After a back and forth seven minutes of action, a couple of late free throws by Kent State’s Kris Brewer tied the game at 69 and Cooper’s half-court heave at the buzzer was just off as regulation ended, sending the game to overtime.
 
The overtime period was as back-and-forth as the end of regulation. Kent State took a 75-73 lead on two free throws by Kris Brewer with 31 seconds to go, but Taylor hit the big 3-pointer on the next Ohio possession to help clinch the victory for the Bobcats
 
Ohio returns to action against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday (Feb. 20) at 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.
 
Akron 67, Bowling Green 50
Boxscore
AKRON, Ohio – Four players scored in double figures as the Akron men's basketball team extended the nation's longest winning streak to 17 games courtesy of a 67-50 win over Bowling Green on Saturday night at James A. Rhodes Arena.
 
Akron, 21-4 overall and 12-0 in Mid-American Conference play, tied the 1957-58 Miami (Ohio) RedHawks for the best start to league play in conference history. The Zips also extended their home and overall conference winning streaks to 13 games. Additionally, the victory earned UA at least the No. 2 seed in next month's MAC Tournament.
 
Akron remains one of seven undefeated teams nationally in league play this season.
 
Zeke Marshall led the Zips with 15 points on the night in addition to nine boards, three blocked shots, one assist and one steal. Alex Abreu (13), Nick Harney (13) and Brian Walsh (10) also scored in double figures.
 
Richaun Holmes led Bowling Green (10-15, 5-7 MAC) with 15 points.
 
Akron won despite shooting 36.5 percent (23-of-63) from the field and helped itself by making 82.6 percent of its attempts (19-of-23) at the foul line and outrebounding the Falcons, 43-35. UA converted BGSU's 15 turnovers into 16 points, and 21 of the Zips' points came on second-chance opportunities.
 
Bowling Green shot just 32.8 percent (19-of-58) from the floor and did not connect on a field goal in the last 5 1/2 minutes of the game when the Zips used a 12-1 run to close out the win.
 
UA opened the game on an 11-1 run and held a 29-21 advantage at halftime.
 
The Zips face North Dakota State on Friday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. ET in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters game, set to air on ESPN2.
 
Western Michigan 66, Northern Illinois 58
Boxscore
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Western Michigan men's basketball exploded late with a 16-0 run to end the contest, coming back from an eight-point deficit to stun the Northern Illinois Huskies 66-58 at University Arena on Saturday.  With the win, the Broncos improve to 16-9 overall on the season, 8-4 in Mid-American Conference play.
 
Shayne Whittington led the Broncos in scoring with 15 points, including a 9-of-9 performance from the free throw line.  Connar Tava, making his first career start, had 12 points and eight rebounds, both career-highs, while also notching two steals.  Austin Richie had double-digits in points for the second straight game, notching 11 points (including the go-ahead basket), and David Brown finished with 10 points off the bench.
 
The Broncos trailed 58-50 with 4:01 remaining in the game, but embarked on what can only be described as a furious rally to close the proceedings and shock the Huskies, who had led from the 15:38 mark of the first half.  Tava took a post feed from Whittington at the 3:38 mark to cut the lead to six points; on the next possession, Brown drained a three-pointer from deep in the right corner to cut the NIU lead to 58-55 with 2:24 remaining.
 
Brown wasn't finished, however.  He swiped the ball from Darrell Bowie at halfcourt on the Huskies' next possession and sprinted the down the court, laying the ball in for a fast break lay-up to make it just a one-point game.  The 3,569 fans in attendance now in full throat, Bowie stepped over the baseline on the inbounds play, giving possession back to the Broncos.  Richie put the Broncos ahead for good with a three-point bomb from the right wing, bringing the house to its feet as the Broncos took a 60-58 lead with 1:29 to play.
 
Brown made it a two-possession game with a lay-up with 38 seconds remaining in the game, and Richie and Whittington each made a pair of free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach and give the Broncos the improbable victory.
 
The Broncos opened the game on a 7-2 run, with Brandon Pokley making the first two shots of the game for the Broncos and Nate Hutcheson capping the run with an old-fashioned three-point play, making a lay-up while drawing contact from Kevin Gray in the process; Hutcheson swished the free throw to make it 7-2.  The Huskies responded with a 10-0 run of their own, taking a 12-7 lead, but the Broncos stopped the bleeding when Jared Klein found A.J. Avery sprinting down the floor on the fast break.  Avery took the lead pass from his freshman classmate and laid it in, cutting the Huskies' lead to just three points.  David Brown further cut into the lead, draining a three-pointer from the right side to make it 14-12 with 11:09 left in the half.
 
The Huskies continued to control the tempo on the offensive end of the floor, but the Broncos never let them get far beyond arm's reach.  Austin Richie drained a three-pointer from the right win to pull the Broncos to within 23-18, and Hutcheson took a lob pass on an inbounds and lifted a hook shot in the late to make it 23-20.  The Huskies countered with a three from J.J. Cravatta, making it 26-20 with 7:11 to play in the half, but Connar Tava made a pair of free throws to keep it a two-bucket game.  Whittington made it 26-24 with 6:15 remaining on a pair of free throws, but Daveon Balls dropped a three from the deep right corner to extend the Huskies' lead to five points.
 
Northern Illinois's lead reached 10 at one point in the half, but Richie made his second three-pointer of the game, dropping a bomb from the left side to make it 34-27 with 1:57 remaining.  Balls made another big three late in the shot clock, but Whittington made a lay-up with 7.4 seconds remaining, drawing a foul in the process; Whittington converted the three-point play to make it 37-32, which stood until the halftime horn.
 
The Broncos went to the paint to start the second half, with Connar Tava bullying his way inside to grab rebounds and make baskets.  Tava scored the first four points of the second half for the Broncos, making a lay-up at the 19:30 mark to pull the team with three points, and making another off an offensive rebound at the 18:32 mark to pull the Broncos within two points; Tava drew the foul in that instance as well, making a free throw to make it just 38-37.  Tava drew yet another foul early in the half, this one at the 13:51 mark; his two free throws gave him a career-high nine points, and cut NIU's lead to 44-41.
 
Whittington tied the game at the 12:22 mark of the second half, the first time it had been that way since early in the first; the junior center made a lay-up over the Huskies' Kevin Gray, drawing a foul and making the ensuing free throw to tie it at 44.  NIU went on a 8-3 run, though, extending their lead to two possessions with 6:46 remaining in the game.  Tava made it a four-point contest with a free throw make at the 6:31 mark, but Antone Christian scored four straight for the Huskies to extend the lead to 56-48 with 5:01 remaining.
 
Buffalo 79, Miami 71
Boxscore
OXFORD, OH – Buoyed by 51 points combined from Tony Watson and Javon McCrea, the Buffalo men's basketball team held of the Miami (OH) Redhawks (8-16, 3-9 MAC) Saturday afternoon, 79-71. After setting a career high with 24 points against Toledo on Wednesday, Watson bested that effort with 31 points to help seal a crucial road win and get the Bulls (11-15, 6-6 MAC) closer to a top four position in the Mid-American Conference.
 
Watson was hot from the very start, scoring 16 points on a perfect 6-6 shooting performance, including all four three pointers. That would be important for the team, which shot just 7-20 combined alongside Watson in the opening half. The Redhawks shot a blistering 63 percent from the floor in the first half, but went into halftime down 39-36 to Buffalo due to a rash of early turnovers and an equally strong offensive performance from the Bulls. There were five ties and six lead changes in the first half alone, but an 8-1 run by UB to end the half helped to build momentum going into the locker room.
 
"We all knew the situation we were in, knowing that with a win we could make some moves in the standings, and I wanted to set the tone offensively right away," Watson said. "We did a great job of moving the ball and finding the open guys."
 
After a relatively quiet first half, McCrea found his pace in the second half. His jumper at the 17:41 mark of the second half gave Buffalo a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the game. He would hit six of seven shots in the second half to score 20 for the game, adding in six rebounds.
 
The margin would sway from one to four points over the next four minutes before another UB run would provide some breathing room. Up 48-47 with 13:40 to go, Watson hit his fifth three of the game that sparked a 15-4 run for UB to get the lead all the way up to 12.
 
Miami would methodically chip away at the lead, getting it all the way down to one with 1:26 to play, mirroring the comeback Buffalo mounted in the last meeting between the divisional rivals on Jan. 12 at Alumni Arena. This time around, though, the Bulls were able to make the clutch plays to seal the win.
 
Up 70-69, Jarryn Skeete hit a pair of clutch free throws in a 1-and-1 to boost the lead to three. After Miami missed a would-be game tying three, Will Regan pulled down a rebound in traffic and was fouled with 36 seconds to play. He fought through a shoulder injury to cooly sink both free throws to make it a 74-69 game.
 
The Redhawks would hit two more free throws, but it fouled Watson before the next inbounds pass and Watson convert with his fourth and fifth free throws made. Not yet content, he then made a steal with under ten seconds left and capped off his day with an old-fashioned three point play after being knocked down on a breakaway layup.
 
"Again he (Watson) played 40 minutes, and in the last four games he's played all but three minutes," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said of his senior guard. "He's in a groove now, when we played him the first time he was in a bit of a funk but he's playing well now."
 
The win at Millett Hall was the team's first since the 2008-09 season, and just the second win there since 2003. This was also the first time all season that the Bulls scored 75 points or more in back-to-back games, and it is also the team's first three-game winning streak of the season.
 
"They (Miami) play you so hard and so gritty for so long that it's tough to keep your concentration for that long," Witherspoon said. "The key for us was to not turn the ball over, and I thought that and rebounding helped us out a lot. It was encouraging for our guys to get a few stops. I think it's obviously a good time of the year to be playing well, but we have to find a way to get better every day."
 
Next up will be the team's Ramada Worldwide Bracketbusters game at home Saturday against Manhattan. The game is set to tip at 2 pm.
 
Toledo 73, Central Michigan 64
Boxscore
MT. PLEASANT, MI - Freshman  C Nathan Boothe scored a career-high 19 points and junior G Rian Pearson registered his 13th career double-double (18 pts., 12 reb.) to lead Toledo to a 73-64 triumph at Central Michigan (9-16, 2-10 MAC) on Saturday evening in McGuirk Arena.
 
The victory kept the Rockets (12-11, 8-4 MAC) in a first-place tie with Western Michigan (16-9, 8-4 MAC) in the Mid-American Conference's West Division. The Broncos posted a 66-58 home victory over Northern Illinois tonight.
 
Joining Boothe and Pearson in double figures were sophomore G Julius Brown (13 pts., game-high eight asst., six reb.) and senior G Dominique Buckley (10 pts., 2 steals).
 
Senior G Kyle Randall topped the Chippewas with 21 points, with freshman G Chris Fowler (12 pts.) and freshman F Blake Hibbitts (11 pts.) joining him in double figures.
 
Toledo shot 45.5 percent from the field, including 53.8 percent in the second half, while limiting the Chippewas to a 33.3 shooting mark. UT also held a 39-32 advantage on the boards and produced a positive assist/turnover ratio with 12 helpers and 11 miscues.
 
The Rockets' victory was their fourth straight over the Chippewas and gave UT its first win in Mt. Pleasant since 2008. UT also swept the season series vs. CMU for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.
 
Boothe ignited the Rockets' quick start to the second half with his second three-point field goal of the season to snap a 33-33 tie and put UT ahead to stay. Toledo then gained some breathing room by scoring 10 straight points to take a 52-39 advantage with 9:11 to play.
 
The Chippewas rallied to within 53-47 on Hibbitts' trey with 6:49 remaining, but junior G Reese Holliday answered with a long-distance bomb of his own a minute later for a 56-47 lead.
 
Fowler knocked down two free throws at the 3:38 mark to cut UT's cushion to 58-53, but junior F Matt Smith drilled another big trey for the Rockets with 3:22 to play for a 61-53 advantage.  Toledo then hit 7-of-10 free throws in the final 1:10 to secure the win.
 
Toledo is now idle until Saturday, Feb. 23 when it hosts Southland Conference foe McNeese State in a non-conference contest in Savage Arena.
 
Eastern Michigan 56, Ball State 50
Boxscore
MUNCIE, Ind. (EMUEagles.com) – A 20-point performance by Glenn Bryant (Detroit, Mich.-Oak Hill Academy (Arkansas)) propelled the Eastern Michigan University men's basketball team to a 56-50 victory on the road Saturday, Feb. 16, over Ball State University. It was the first win away from the Convocation Center for the Green and White this season.
 
The Eagles (12-13, 5-6 MAC) were led by Bryant who posted a career-high 20 points, along with four rebounds, while J.R. Sims (Fort Wayne, Ind.-Snider) notched a career-best 18 points. Bryant shot 8-of-14 (57.1 percent) from the floor, while Sims hit 7-of-8 (87.5 percent) including 4-of-5 (80 percent) from beyond the arc. Austin Harper (Grand Haven, Mich.-Grand Haven (Glen Oaks C.C.)) chipped in six points. On the glass Anthony Strickland (Ypsilanti, Mich.-D.H. Roubichard (Adrian)) posted a team-high five rebounds. As a team, EMU shot 22-of-39 (56.4 percent) from the floor, while hitting 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from three-point land.
 
Jauwan Scaife led the all-scorers for the Cardinals with 21 points, while Majok Majok pulled down 16 rebounds. Ball State shot 15-of-44 (34.1 percent) and 5-of-27 (18.5 percent) from the three-point line in the loss.
 
Ball State opened the scoring when Chris Bond dropped in a bucket underneath the basket. Eastern's only response in the first four minutes of play was the backend of a pair from the charity stripe by Strickland. The Cardinals were sparked by four EMU turnovers in the first five minutes of play and went on a 7-0 run to make it 9-1 in their favor with 15 minutes left on the clock in the opening half.
 
A fast break bucket by Matt Balkema (Roseville, Mich.-Cousino) put an end to the BSU run, bringing Eastern within seven, 9-3. The Eagles and Cardinals traded buckets back and forth through the next few minutes bringing the game to its next break with EMU trailing, 14-5.
 
Indiana native, Sims knocked down a three-ball out of the media timeout to bring the Eagles to within six, 14-8, with just over 11 minutes left on the clock. Sims followed up with the next bucket after picking Scaife's pocket and finishing a layup on the fast break, making it 14-10 with 9:45 left in the half. Chase Brogna finished the Eagles miniature 5-0 run with a triple, but Strickland return-fired with a jumper of his own, making it 17-12 in favor of Ball State.
 
The Eagles were the first to strike out of the break with Sims knocking down another three-ball to bring EMU within two, 17-15, at the 5:41 mark. Scaife converted on both free-throws of a one-and-one to extend the Ball State lead to 19-15 with 4:27 on the clock. Jalen Ross (Greensboro, N.C.-Greensboro Day School) hit a floater, making it a two-point, 19-17, game with just under four minutes to play, then Bryant filled up a jumper from the elbow to tie the game for the first time since the opening tip.
 
After Matt Kamienicki converted on a tip-in, Sims gave EMU its first lead of the ball game, 22-21, after he hit his third triple of the half. Jamell Harris (Euclid, Ohio-Euclid) stuffed home an open dunk with 1:25 left on the clock, giving Eastern a three-point, 24-21, lead. However, Brogna answered at the other end connecting on a three-pointer with 56 seconds left on the clock to knot things up at 24 apiece, which is where the score stayed heading into the half.
 
Sims led all-scorers in the first half with 11 points, going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, and 3-of-3 from three-point land. Bryant added four points, while Strickland notched three in the opening 20 minutes of play. Harper and Strickland each pulled down three rebounds to lead EMU. As a team, the Eagles shot 10-of-20 (50 percent) from the floor in the first half, matching their shooting percentage from beyond the arc, going 3-of-6. Eastern held the Cardinals to 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) shooting in the first half, including a 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) performance on three-point shots in the opening half.
 
Bryant opened up the second half scoring four-straight giving EMU a four-point, 28-24, lead. After Sciafe knocked down the back-end of a pair of free ones, Eastern dropped four straight as Daylen Harrison (Akron, Ohio-St. Vincent St. Mary (Wyoming)) knocked down a runner and Bryant hit a fast break layup to make it a seven-point, 32-25, lead with 14:08 left in regulation. Scaife hit the second of a pair from the charity stripe to end EMU's quick 4-0 run.
 
Marcus Posley hit both of his free-throws out of the second media timeout of the second half to bring the Cardinals to within four, 32-28, with 11:30 on the clock. Majok Majok followed Posely with a pair of free ones to make it 32-30 at the 10:37 mark. Sims responded with his first bucket of the second half, and his fourth three-pointer of the game with 9:43 on the clock to end EMU's almost five minute scoring drought and put the Eagles back up five, 35-30. Bryant followed with a runner to put EMU up seven.
 
Scaife knocked down Ball State's first field goal of the half with 8:52 left, but Bryant was able to return-fire with a three-ball at the other end of the court giving the Eagles an eight-point, 40-32, lead with 8:19 remaining in the game. EMU took its first double-digit lead, 44-34, when Harper connected on a pair of free-throws with just under six minutes left in the game.
 
After trading buckets, the Eagles took a 13 point lead, 50-37, with 2:48 left when Sims converted on a layup. Scaife filled up a pair of free throws and a three-ball  in straight trips making it a 50-42 tally with 2:19 left. Bond followed with a layup after getting a pass on a backdoor cut the Eagles lead to six, 50-44. After Bryant knocked down the first of a one-and-one, Majok knocked down both free-throws to make it 51-46 in favor of Eastern. Scaife then made it a three-point game, 51-48, on the next trip with a jumper, but a pair of back-to-back buckets for iced the game for EMU, 56-50.
 
The Eagles continue their 2012-13 campaign Wednesday, Feb. 20, when they travel to Athens, Ohio to makeup a game with Ohio University. EMU's game with the Bobcats was postponed due to an incident on the Ohio campus, Jan. 30. Tipoff between the Bobcats and Eagles is set for 7 p.m. at the Ohio Convocation Center Wednesday evening.

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