By Terry Rabbitts
Ohio Slows Down Eastern Michigan in Women’s MAC Final
CLEVELAND, OHIO — Kiyanna Black dropped in 25 points and teammates Lexie Baldwin and Mariah Byard chipped in 13 and 12 respectfully as the Ohio University Bobcats find a way to end the Eastern Michigan Eagles run in the Women’s MAC Tournament Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.
The 60-44 victory gives the Lady Bobcats (27-4) an automatic bid into the Women’s NCAA Tournament that starts next week.
The first half was an offensive struggle early as both teams had trouble finding the bottom of the basket. The lead was exchanged quite a few times until it seemed like the Eagles (22-12) had taken control at 23-17 with 2:52 left in the half behind Sweeney’s 16 points.
Ohio closed the half on a 8-4 run to narrow the gap with Baldwin leading the way with 10 talleys.
Eastern Michigan led at the half 27-25, but the Lady Bobcats started the second with a 15-4 run in the first 8:07 to gain a 40-31 advantage. Five different players scored during the run for Ohio.
The Eagle kept it close as Sweeney hit a trey and assisted on a Sera Ozelci jumper to make it 40-36.
The Lady Bobcats kept their poise and were able to stretch the advantage to their largest lead of the game at 10 at 53-43 with 4:25 remaining in the game.
Eastern were able to hold Ohio scoreless over the next 2 minutes, but only managed a Sweeney free throw during that time to keep it at 53-44.
Ohio’s Yamonie Jenkins drained a trey to give her team the new largest lead at 56-44 with 2:08 left and the defense held the Eagles scoreless over the last 4:15.
The sixth seeded Eagles had scored an average of 78.5 points per game in the first 4 games of the tourney. Sweeney and the rest of the team seemed to be running on fumes at the end of this one after playing 5 games in 6 days.
Bobcat teammates Black, Baldwin, and Byard joined the Eagles’ Sweeney and Kristen Sharkey (Buffalo) on the All-Tournament Team, with Black winning the Most Valuable Player.
Central Michigan gets Buffalo’d in MAC Mens Final
CLEVELAND, OHIO — Xavier Ford and Shannon Evans each poured in 18 points and four other teammates hit double figures as the second seeded Buffalo Bulls defeated the top seeded Central Michigan Chippewas 89-84 in the Mens MAC Final at the Q Saturday night.
With the win, Coach Bobby Hurley’s team punches their ticket to the Big Dance and waits to see their seeding and opponent Sunday during the annual Selection Show for the NCAA Tournament.
Buffalo started the game with Ford splitting a pair from the charity stripe and hitting a trey for a quick 4-0 lead.
Central’s John Simons quickly neutralized that with 2 triples and the Chippewas were briefly had a 6-4 lead.
A Braylon Rayson three pointer gave Central a 24-18 lead at the 9:03 mark as they tried to make a statement and steal the momentum.
But that did not stay that way as Lamonte Bearden dropped in a layup and a free throw to ignite the Bulls run that actually saw them leading 38-32 with 2:40 left in the half.
Fowler and Luke Meyer each scored and then the team traded baskets for a bit before the horn for intermission with Buffalo leading 42-39.
Ford led the Bulls with 11 points at the break, while Justin Moss (the MAC player of the year), still smarting from a twisted ankle from earlier in the week, added 6 boards. Fowler led all scorers with 13 and added 5 assists.
The biggest statistical difference in the first half was Buffalo’s 8 offensive rebounds to Central’s 3 which led to a 7-1 spread in second chance points.
The second half starts with Fowler hitting a couple of free throws and a Meyer layup to give Central the lead back at 43-42.
Buffalo fought back with a Shannon Evans bomb to give the Bulls a 45-43 lead right back at the 18:14 mark.
Neither team wanted to take control of the momentum at that point. The Bulls got a 3 from Wil Regan and a Moss layup to take a five point advantage only to have Central roar back around the 13 minute area.
The one thing that Central could do was take the lead, they closed it to 1 or 2 points on several occasions, but on possessions with chances to tie or even take the lead, the Chippewas would come up empty.
A couple of free throws by Moss and a 3 from Evans gave the Bulls a 66-60 lead with 7:58 left in the game, the largest lead in a while for Buffalo.
A Ford triple stretched the Bulls’ lead to seven at 73-66 with 5:53 left in the game, and another bucket by the senior forward after an offensive rebound kept the gap at 7 a minute later.
The offense was their 13th to 6 for Central still resulting in a 15-3 differential in second chance points.
The two teams traded baskets for a while until a Blake Hibbitts foul on a rebound and Moss connecting on 1 of 2 to make it 80-72 with 2:40 remaining. Jarryn Skeete sank a triple to extended the lead to 83-72.
The Chippewas were not done fighting as a Rayson trey and a steal and a layup by Rayshawn Simmons made it 83-77 at 1:59. A pair of free throws by Rayson made it 83-79 with just over a minute.
Central forced a Bull turnover and had a chance to cut into the lead, but Fowler misfired on a layup and the Chippewas were forced to foul from there.
Buffalo could not hit their free throws and gave Central more chances but they could not capitalize and a fast break dunk by Beardon gave the Bulls a 86-79 lead with 18 ticks on the clock.
Rayson canned another bomb to close the gap to 86-82, but finally Buffalo hit some free throws to close out the game.
The Bulls’ Moss finished with 10 points to go along with 11 boards. Central’s Fowler finished with 27 points and 9 assists.
Toledo’s J.D. Weatherspoon joined Central’s Fowler and Simmons along with Central’s Evans and Ford on the All-Tournament Team. Ford was named the Most Valuable Player.