KENT NABS TOP SEED:
The Kent Golden Flashes earned the top seed and a first round bye in the MAC Women's Basketball Tournament, which begins Monday, Feb. 28 at campus sites. Kent, which set a school record with its 22nd regular season win, will face the winner of the Buffalo-Akron game in a 1 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 2 contest at Public Hall.
MONDAY'S FIRST ROUND GAMES:
In addition to No. 9 Akron traveling to No. 8 Buffalo, other first round matchups include: No. 13 Marshall at No. 4 Miami, No. 12 Northern Illinois at No. 5 Eastern Michigan, No. 11 Central Michigan at No. 6 Ball State and No. 10 Ohio at No. 7 Bowling Green.
EMU NABS TWO BIG WINS:
Eastern Michigan made a strong late season run after posting two wins over a pair of teams ahead of them in the standings. The Eagles defeated Toledo, 91-54, last Monday, then shocked West Division champion Western Michigan, 93-65, on Friday. Stephanie Smiley had 21 points and Kristy Maska and Jessica Henry each had 19 in the victory over the Rockets. Against the Broncos, Henry had 29 points, while Amy Crickard had a career-high 26 points.
THAT'S THE TICKET:
Tickets for the 2000 Mid-American Conference Women's Basketball Tournament March 2-4 at Public Hall are currently on sale and can be purchased by contacting Ticketmaster at (216) 241-5555. Prices for an all-session ticket (good for all seven games) are $30 for adults and $20 for students 18 and under and for seniors 55 and older for reserved seats, while general admission seats are $25 for adults and $15 for students/seniors. Single session tickets begin at $5 for general admission and $6 for reserved seats. To purchase tickets for a specific school section, please contact that institution's ticket office.
THE NON-CONFERENCE LOOK:
The Mid-American Conference completed the regular season with a 62-75 non-conference record, which translates into a .453 winning percentage. That mark also includes a 1-8 record against nationally-ranked opponents. Last year, the MAC's record in non-conference play was 59-66 (.472).
A LOOK AT THE RPI:
In the weekly installment of the College Basketball News Women's RPI Report (through games of Feb. 25), the Mid-American Conference was ranked No. 17 among the 31 Division I conferences and is also ranked No. 16 according to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (through games of Feb. 20). The MAC had four schools in the top-150 of the Women's RPI Report and five in the WBCA report.
School CBN WBCA
Kent 32 39
Western Michigan 90 90
Buffalo 133 130
Miami 141 149
Toledo 157 140
THE DRIVE FOR FIVE:
The Kent Golden Flashes are looking to make their fifth consecutive appearance in the MAC Tournament championship game. Incidentally, all of those games have been played against Toledo. In fact, Kent advanced to the final game of the MAC Tournament six times during the 1990s (1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) and won one title (1998).
FALCONS SET TREY RECORD:
Bowling Green ended the regular season with a last second win at Buffalo on Friday and also set a new league record for three-pointers made in a season with 241. BG broke the old mark of 234, which was set by Kent and Toledo in the 1993-94 campaign. It took the Falcons 26 games to set the record, compared to 28 from Kent and 34 from the Rockets. The Falcons, who are averaging 9.27 treys a game, lead the MAC and all of Division I. They are also chasing the national record, which is 9.19 set by South Carolina in the 1993-94 season.
In their last eight games, the Falcons have hit 85 treys, an average of 10.6 per game. In MAC games, Bowling Green is averaging 9.94 treys (159 in 16 games).
EMU ENDS SKID WITH TOLEDO:
After losing the previous 27 meetings with Toledo, Eastern Michigan came out and made a statement, handing the Rockets a 91-54 defeat last Monday. It was the first win for Eastern over Toledo since the 1986-87 season. The loss was the worst one for the Rockets since the 1988-89 season when they dropped a 90-51 decision to Bowling Green.
FIRST APPEARANCE FOR HERD:
Marshall will make its first-ever appearance in the MAC Tournament on Monday when it travels to Miami. It marks the first time since the 1996-97 season that the Thundering Herd has participated in postseason play, and it's also the first time in as many years that they have played one team three times in one season.
STARTING FIVE SEES DOUBLE:
Ball State's starting five -- Amy Zercher, Tamara Bowie, Laurie Kitts and sophomores Shala Crook and Christy Jones -- each scored in double figures in the Cardinals' 87-81 overtime loss at Northern Illinois Tuesday. Four of the five (Bowie, Zercher, Jones and Kitts) reached the plateau against CMU Friday. For the season, four of the five are averaging double figures in points. Bowie leads the team with 14.4 points per contest, Kitts is averaging 12.0 points, Crook is scoring 11.9 points while Jones entered the double-scoring average at 11.4 per contest. Zercher follows at 9.8 points per game.
THE LINEUP SHUFFLE AT OHIO:
First-year Ohio head coach Lynn Bria has used 11 different starting lineups this year, and every active Bobcat has started at least once. Brittany Collins has started the least number of times (1), while Heather Laughlin is the only player to start every contest.
KENT TIES HOME MAC RECORD:
Kent tied a MAC record with its 31st consecutive home win last Wednesday, defeating Buffalo 71-58. The victory for the Golden Flashes equaled Toledo's streak of 31, which spanned the 1990-1993 seasons. Kent owns the second-longest winning streak in Division I, trailing Grambling's 66 straight.
MARKWOOD MAKES HER MARK:
After being held out of double digits in scoring in eight straight contests, Toledo senior Jennifer Markwood finished the regular season by averaging 13.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Markwood has also shined in each of her last two MAC Tournaments, garnering all-tournament accolades. The senior is second all-time in Toledo history in blocked shots (80) and is seventh in rebounds (787).
STEWART IN SELECT COMPANY:
Miami's Jamie Stewart became just the second player in school history and only the fifth in MAC history to register 200 made three-point field goals a week ago, and on Friday became the school's all-time leader. Stewart passed Lisa Hayden for the top spot in RedHawk annals, a feat that would also move her up to fourth in league history.
FROM WHOM THE BELL TOLLS:
Buffalo junior Tiffany Bell averaged 26.5 points per game last week, including a season-high 33 in a loss to Bowling Green, and finished the regular season as the MAC's scoring leader (19.6). Bell, who has 1,092 career points, is four points away from moving into seventh place in UB history.
WILD WILD WEST:
Central Michigan and Ball State had an old fashion shoot-out in the Wild West Division of the MAC on Friday night. CMU's Jodi Culbertson hit nine three-pointers in the game and BSU's Laurie Kitts hit eight as each set school records. Both teams also set school records with Ball State draining 15 from downtown and CMU another 13. Culbertson scored a career-high 32 points in the game but the most important ones were three free throws with 0.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 76. CMU returns to Ball State for a first-round MAC tournament game on Monday in the rubber match between the two schools.
KITTS SETS RECORD, AGAIN:
Ball State freshman Laurie Kitts set a school record for the second time in less than two weeks after she hit eight three-point field goals versus Central Michigan on Friday. Kitts, who equaled a career-high with 28 points versus the Chippewas, has scored in double figures in seven of the last nine games and in nine of BSU's last 12 contests. For the season, Kitts has drilled 52 threes and is shooting 39 percent from behind the arc.
WHEN THEY'RE ON, EAGLES WIN:
Eastern Michigan relies on outside shooting, especially from guards Jessica Henry, Kristy Maska and Stephanie Smiley. When two of the three score in double digits this season, Eastern is 9-3. Last Monday against Toledo, the three all scored in double digits for just the sixth time this season, moving that mark to 5-1. At Toledo, the three combined for 59 points on 21-of-37 shooting and 13-of-23 from the arc.
PAIR MAKE LATE SURGE:
Both Bowling Green and Akron got off to rough starts in league play, but the pair made late season strides and improved their positions for this week's tournament. The Falcons opened with a 2-6 mark in MAC play but closed with six wins in eight tries and in the process secured a first round home game and a seventh seed. Akron, meanwhile, was 1-6 after its first seven but won six of its last nine and is the ninth seed.
KOETSIER'S ROOKIE RUN:
Western Michigan freshman center Kristin Koetsier is having a rookie campaign most people only dream of. Koetsier is second in the league in scoring (19.3), rebounding (9.7) and blocked shots (1.37), fourth in free throw percentage (.804) and fifth in field goal percentage (.529). In addition, she also leads the MAC in double-doubles (13) and defensive rebounds (7.07), and has been named the offensive player of the week twice and the defensive player of the week three times. She is also vying to become the first-ever freshman to lead the league in scoring. Koetsier also enters the tournament needing 18 points to set a new league scoring mark for a freshman.
GREAT WAY TO END CAREER:
Marking her final home appearance as a Huskie, Charbea Haller helped her team to an overtime win against Ball State. Haller had a game-high 19 points, including a career-high six three-pointers. She was successful on all six of her three-point attempts in the second half, one of which was a 27-footer with 6.6 seconds remaining to force the extra session. NIU trailed by eight points with a minute and a half remaining but erased the deficit to force overtime.
MARTIN LOST FOR THE YEAR:
Jenny Martin, Miami's leading scorer, was lost for the rest of the season when she suffered a stress fracture in her right foot on Feb. 8 at Ohio. Since her departure, the Redhawks are 3-2.
PRESEASON POLL REVISITED:
Below is a comparison of the league's preseason poll, which was released back in October, in relation to where the teams stand following the conclusion of the regular season.
East Division Pick +/-
Kent 1st even
Miami 3rd +1
Bowling Green 4th +1
Buffalo 5th +1
Akron 2nd -2
Ohio 6th even
Marshall 7th even
West Division Pick +/-
Western Michigan 2nd +1
Toledo 1st -1
Ball State 6th +3
Eastern Michigan 3rd even
Central Michigan 5th even
Northern Illinois 4th -2
UB'S CHAIR OF THE BOARDS:
Buffalo freshman Kim Kilpela has either tied or led the Bulls in rebounds in each of her last six games. The forward averaged 8.5 caroms per contest last week to improve her season average to 7.2, which is second on the team. Kilpela is also second on the squad in scoring (10.2).
BALANCED SCORING ATTACK:
After losing its leading scorer, Jenny Martin, for the remainder of the season, Miami has displayed a very balanced scoring attack. In each of their last three contests, the RedHawks have had at least four players reach double digits in scoring. Last week against Marshall, Miami had six players score 10 or more points, including all of its starters, and had five reach double digits in its win over Ohio. Freshman Heather Cusick has led Miami in scoring in each of its last two games, scoring 16 against the Thundering Herd and 20 versus the Bobcats.
ZERMAN IN SELECT COMPANY:
Senior Dawn Zerman collected her 1,500th career point in Kent's 74-72 loss at Miami Feb. 2. By reaching that milestone she became the first player in Kent history and the second MAC player ever to have 1,500 career points, 400 career assists and 250 career steals. The only other player to accomplish this feat was two-time MAC Player of the Year Kim Knuth (2,509 points, 484 assists and 368 steals) from Toledo.
BG'S ALL-CENTURY TEAM NAMED:
At halftime of its game with Eastern Michigan on Feb. 12, Bowling Green announced its all-century team following a ballot which appeared in the Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune. Named to the first team were Jackie Motycka, Chris Tuttle, Megan McGuire, Sara Puthoff and Paulette Backstrom. The second team consisted of Lori Albers, Angie Bonner, Susie Cassell, Sue Pokelsek and current head coach Dee Knoblauch.