Akron Wins MAC Men's Basketball Regular Season Title

Updated 3/5/2013

Tuesday's MAC Men's Basketball Results
Akron 72, Miami 58
Ohio 72, Buffalo 69
Kent State 69, Bowling Green 61
Ball State 89, Western Michigan 85
Central Michigan 61, Eastern Michigan 59
Toledo 70, Northern Illinois 46

Stories courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments

Akron 72, Miami 58

AKRON, Ohio – Zeke Marshall led four Akron players in double-figure points with 14 in helping the Zips to a 72-58 win over Miami (Ohio) and clinching their second-consecutive Mid-American Conference championship on Tuesday night at James A. Rhodes Arena.

Marshall made 6-of-7 shots from the field, grabbed eight rebounds and registered three blocked shots to go with a career-high five assists. Nick Harney (13), Alex Abreu (12) and Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell (10) rounded out the team's double-digit scorers. Abreu also had seven assists and three steals, and Treadwell tallied seven rebounds.
Akron (24-5, 14-1 MAC) is the third team in the last 30 years to repeat as regular-season champions, joining Ball State (1989-90) and Kent State (2010-11). Overall, 12 teams have won back-to-back regular-season crowns in the MAC's 65 years of basketball.
Jon Harris led Miami (8-20, 3-12) with 21 points.
After holding a 31-28 margin at the half, Akron pushed its advantage to 44-30 courtesy of a 13-2 run to open the second half. The Akron defense forced four turnovers and held Miami to just three shot attempts over the first 5:08 of the half.
The RedHawks began to chip away at the Zips' lead at the charity stripe, hitting four-straight free throws to trim the gap to 47-36 with 12 minutes to play. Both teams traded buckets over the next four-plus minutes, with the Akron lead shrinking to eight. The Zips once again had an answer thanks to back-to-back buckets that pushed their lead back to 59-46 heading into the under-8 media timeout and the RedHawks did not threaten the rest of the way.
With the score tied 5-5, the Zips used a short 7-0 run to open up a 12-5 lead with 14:51 on the clock to force the RedHawks to call their first timeout of the game. The run us jump-started by baskets from Treadwell, Abreu and Jake Kretzer.
The Zips opened up their first double-digit lead of the night thanks to a 9-0 run, going up 11 (26-15) with 6:53 left before halftime. The RedHawks responded with an 8-0 to force Akron to call it's first timeout with 2:56 to go in the half and the Zips leading 29-28.
Deji Ibitayo's free throws with 1:25 left would be the final points of the half as the Zips took a 31-28 lead into the locker room.
Treadwell led Akron with eight points, four boards, one assist and one steal. Harney finished the half with seven points while Abreu had six points and one assist.
Both teams shot better than 40 percent from the field, with the Zips shooting 46.2 percent. Miami (Ohio) held a 19-14 advantage on the boards and committed eight turnovers to Akron's seven.
Akron closes the regular season on Friday, March 8, when the Zips play host to neighborhood rival Kent State at the JAR. Tip-off for the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge contest is set for 7 p.m. ET and will air live on ESPN2.

Ohio 72, Buffalo 69

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senior guard D.J. Cooper posted a game-high 24 points and nailed the game-winning 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining to give Ohio (22-8, 13-2 MAC) a clutch 72-69 win at Buffalo (12-18, 7-8 MAC) Tuesday evening.

Cooper’s big 3-pointer gave Ohio a 70-69 lead that the Bobcats would not relinquish. For the game, he connected on 9-of-16 field goal attempts – including a 5-for-10 mark from 3-point territory – and added five assists and two steals.
With his third basket of the game, Cooper reached the 2,000 point milestone for his career and become the first player in NCAA Division I history to post 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in a career.
The Chicago, Ill. native also became the all-time leader at Ohio in 3-pointers made with his first triple of the game. Cooper now has 264 3-pointers made in his career.
Ohio shot 48.3 percent (29-60) for the game and overcame a six-point deficit with (69-63) with less than four minutes to play.

Kent State 69, Bowling Green 61

KENT, Ohio – Kent State celebrated senior night at the M.A.C. Center by knocking off Bowling Green 69-61 on Tuesday night and clinching the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Mid-American Conference tournament.

The victory combined with an Eastern Michigan loss at Central Michigan and Buffalo's home loss to Ohio University guaranteed the Golden Flashes (18-12, 8-7 MAC) will receive byes in the MAC tournament's first two rounds and a spot in the MAC tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, March 14. 
"That No. 4 seed is huge," said senior Randal Holt. "Getting it has been our goal going into this last stage of the season. It is huge going into the tournament knowing that we don't have to play as many games (to win a championship). It's even bigger knowing that we are playing our best basketball right now, maturing as a team and coming together. That's what you want going into the tournament."
Holt scored a game-high 16 points while hitting 3-of-4 from the three-point arc in his final game at the M.A.C. Center. With 1,338 career points, Holt moved two points ahead of Kyrem Massey (1997-01) and into ninth place on Kent State's all-time scoring list. He also extended his school record of three-pointers made to 237.
A standing ovation met Holt and fellow seniors Chris Evans and Brian Frank during a pre-game ceremony honoring their Kent State careers.
"It went by so fast," said Holt. "It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman. I love everything about Kent State. Great people, fans, coaching staff, the city our teammates. I'm very thankful."
Evans also made the most of his final minutes on the M.A.C. Center's parquet floor, falling just short of the program's first ever triple-double while recording 12 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
The win still didn't come easy for the Golden Flashes, who led by 17 with less than three minutes to play in the first half before watching Bowling Green an 11-0 run to cut Kent State's halftime lead to 35-29.
The Falcons took their first and only lead with 7:29 to play on a breakaway dunk by Craig Sealey.
But Kent State answered with a quick 7-0 run highlighted by consecutive Mark Henniger baskets on assists from Evans. With a two-handed dunk and a layup, Henniger found chances for old fashioned three-point plays on consecutive possessions. 
"Bowling Green came back and took the lead," said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff. "But our (response) is what makes this team what it has become … Our guys could have folded up shop, gotten panicky and tried to do things outside of themselves. But they stuck with it. We've been getting better at that as the season has gone on.
"If this game was in January, we wouldn't have been able to fight back like that. We got a bunch of stops, got some transition baskets and were able to come away with the win."
The victory was Kent State's sixth in its last seven games and it moved the Flashes above .500 in MAC play for the first time this season.
Darren Goodson added 12 points and five rebounds in the win while point guard Kris Brewer scored 11 and hit 3-of-4 from three-point range. 
A'uston Calhoun scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead Bowling Green (12-18, 6-9). Jordan Crawford and Richaun Holmes added 12 and 11 points, respectively for the Falcons, who won outscored Kent State 50-20 in the paint and 22-9 on the fast break in a losing effort. 
Kent State will close the regular season at the University of Akron at 7 p.m. on Friday night, and while that game will not impact the seeding in the MAC tournament, it is still an important night for the Golden Flashes.
"That game means a lot to us," said Holt. "It's a big rivalry game. We want to go in pumped up and ready to play. It would be a big win for us. It would add to the snowball and keep our team together and focused. A win at Akron would have our confidence skyrocket high going into the tournament."

Ball State 89, Western Michigan 85

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - A double-digit deficit eventually turned into a wild finish at University Arena, as the Western Michigan men's basketball team fell 89-85 to the red-hot Ball State Cardinals on Tuesday.  With the loss, the Broncos fall to 18-11 on the season, 9-6 in Mid-American Conference play.

Despite the loss, the Broncos still received a bit of good news at the end of the night; due to Central Michigan's victory over Eastern Michigan, the Broncos clinch their seventh MAC West division title in program history, and their sixth under head coach Steve Hawkins.  The Broncos also clinch the third seed in the upcoming 2013 First Energy MAC Tournament, and will proceed directly to the quarterfinal round of the tournament.  The Broncos' first tournament game is slated for Thursday, March 14 at 9 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Shayne Whittington set a new career-high with 28 points, and also added 12 rebounds for his MAC-leading 10th double-double of the season.  Whittington also added three blocks to reach a season total of 47 blocked shots, tying him with Matt Van Abbema and Donald Lawson for third on the single-season list at Western Michigan.
Austin Richie posted a season-high 15 points in the game, including a perfect 3-of-3 night from behind the three-point arc, and also registered four assists.  David Brown came off the bench for 11 points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block.
WMU trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half of the game, but the Broncos out-scored the Cardinals 41-26 over the final 9:05 to bring the final deficit to within two possessions.  In particular, the Broncos entered a 25-13 run in the final 2:46 of regulation, with Richie sparking the outing with a long three-pointer from the center of the floor.  Whittington threw down a two-handed dunk on a feed from Richie at the 2:24 mark, and Richie cut the Cardinals' lead to single digits with a pair of free throw makes 23 seconds later.
Richie would be the one to cut the deficit to two possessions less than a minute later, this time burying a three-point try from the left wing to make it 78-73.  The sophomore guard pulled hte Broncos to within three points with 17 seconds remaining when he drove the lane and laid the ball in, but the Cardinals wank three of four free throws down the stretch to keep the Broncos at bay.
The Broncos opened the game on a 6-2 run, with Darius Paul scoring four of the team's first six points, and Shayne Whittington adding a putback lay-up as well.  The run was capped when Hutcheson drove the lane and threw a slick no-look bounce pass to Paul, who buried a jumper from the head of the key to make it 6-2 with 17:04 remaining. 
Ball State recovered, however, using a 5-0 run of their own to take the one-point lead on the Broncos at the 16:10 mark of the period.  Neither team would gain more than a possession's lead for the next 10 minutes of play, but the Cardinals began to separate themselves at the 5:49 mark when Jesse Berry's three-pointer gave Ball State a 30-25 advantage.  The Cardinals used that basket as part of a 14-0 run, turning what had been a 25-23 Western Michigan lead to a 37-25 edge for Ball State.
The Broncos started to cut into the lead late in the half, with Darius Paul making it just 37-28 with 1:19 remaining, but Berry drained a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the half to set the halftime deficit at 12 points.
Ball State went on a 7-1 run to open the second half and built their lead to 18 points, and eventually led 49-31 with 16:37 remaining in regulation.  The Broncos began to chip away, though, embarking on a 6-0 run of their own to cut into the lead; Whittington dropped a left-handed lay-up at the 16:11 mark to make it a five-point game, and then made a pair of free throws at the 14:57 mark to make it 49-37. 
Connar Tava went on a 6-2 run against the Cardinals on his own midway through the half, driving to the hoop and pulling the Broncos to within 11 points.  Tava spun around Majok Majok at the 13:03 mark and laid it in with the left hand to make it 52-39, and drove the baseline at 12:16 and dropped the ball in the hoop.  Tava capped the run when he went to the hole at the 11:48 mark, drawing the foul from Tyler Koch but putting the ball away anyway to make it 54-43.
The Cardinals put their foot on the gas pedal, eventually taking a 63-44 lead at the 9:05 mark when Berry made a pair of free throws.  WMU went on a 9-1 run, though, which was sparked when Whittington made a pair of free throws at the 6:57 mark.  Berry was whistled for a travel on the ensuing possession, which the Broncos turned into a Nate Hutcheson lay-up off the inbounds play.  The Broncos then stole the inbounds pass from the Cardinals, with Brown drilling a three-pointer from the head of the key to make it 65-54 with 6:35 remaining.
Whittington drained a step-back jumper from 13 feet back to cut the BSU lead to single digits, making it 65-59, and then scored at the 5:30 mark to make it just a seven-point game.  Brown drained a pair of free throws at the 4:18 mark to make it 69-60.

Central Michigan 61, Eastern Michigan 59

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Maybe it was senior night. Maybe it was Eastern Michigan. Something about the Eagles gets the most out of Olivier Mbaigoto, who scored 14 points to go with his team-high six rebounds and was key down the stretch in Central Michigan's 61-59 win over Eastern Michigan.

Mbaigoto's jumper at the right elbow from Chris Fowler with 1:19 left was the deciding factor in the two-point win–the second in a row for the Chippewas (11-18, 4-11 MAC). For Fowler, it was his 10th assist of the night and for Mbaigoto, it added on to his two defensive rebounds and a steal in the final five minutes of a one-possession game.
"This one took some big-time efforts by a lot of guys," said CMU head coach Keno Davis. "Kyle Randall continued to step up and make big shots. We couldn't have won it without (Mbaigoto) down the stretch. What can you say about a freshman who gets 10 assists to one turnover against Eastern's length and size? And I have to mention Finis Craddock who didn't score a whole lot but was there defensively when we needed the big stops."
After shooting 50 percent from the floor and holding the Eagles (14-16, 7-8 MAC) to 37 percent in the first half, things turned 180 degrees in the second. The Chippewas mustered just 33 percent shooting after the break while the Eagles shot at a 56 percent clip to erase a 33-24 CMU halftime lead.
Despite the Chippewas' inefficiency from the field and with the Eagles seemingly in control for much of the half, they led just once–after an 11-2 run gave them a 41-40 edge at the 12-minute media timeout.
Mbaigoto's and-one on the next possession returned the lead to the Chippewas who were able to fight through two more ties and hang on to close the home portion of the schedule with a win.
With just under a minute left, Eastern's Derek Thompson missed a three-pointer that was rebounded by Mbaigoto and allowed the Chippewas to wind down the clock. They missed a basket at the end of the shot clock and the rebound bounced off of Hibbitts out of bounds. The Eagles called a timeout with 19 seconds remaining to set up the game's final play but turned the ball over on the right baseline with 0.4 seconds on the clock. Fowler's half-court in-bounds pass was intercepted by Eastern and a half-court heave hit the left side of the backboard.
"We wanted to prevent a long three and we we wanted Finis to be the guy on the ball," said Davis. "We did a good job extending our defense and then we were able to switch the ball screen in the last four or five seconds to not give them an easy opportunity."
Outscored 34-16 in the paint, the Chippewas found their outside shot to be falling as they hit 7-of-14 from three-point range in the first half and added another pair of threes in the second.
Kyle Randall hit 6-of-11 from long range for 18 of his game-high 23 points. Blake Hibbitts joined Randall and Mbaigoto in double-digits with 13. Fowler's 10 assists set a McGuirk Arena record and he was charged with just one turnover.
In the meeting between these two teams earlier this season–a six-point EMU win– Mbaigoto recorded a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds

Toledo 70, Northern Illinois 46

TOLEDO, OH – Toledo sent seniors Dominique Buckley and Brendon Schwiebert out with a victory as the Rockets cruised to a 70-46 victory over Mid-American Conference foe Northern Illinois.

Junior F Matt Smith led Toledo with a game-high 16 points and a career-high five blocked shots. It was the most rejections by a Rocket since Allen Pinson swatted away seven shots at Duke on Dec. 12, 2004.

Joining Smith in double figures were Buckley (13 points) and junior G Rian Pearson (10 points).
Junior F Aksel Bolin paced the Huskies offensively with 14 points.
Toledo limited the Huskies (5-23, 3-12 MAC) to a miniscule 29.8 field-goal percentage and forced NIU to commit 17 turnovers. The Rockets shot 42.3 percent as a team, including  a season-high 10 three-point field goals, en route to its first season series sweep of the visitors since the 2006-07 season.
The battle of the boards was even with both teams hauling down 34 rebounds. Junior C Richard Wonnell paced the Rockets with a season-high seven caroms.
UT led from wire-to-wire and took a double-digit advantage, 17-5, less than six minutes into the contest. Pearson provided the Rockets a 29-10 cushion with his first of two alley-oop slams.  NIU scored the half’s final four points to cut Toledo’s lead to 34-20 at intermission.
Sophomore Kevin Gray opened the second-half scoring on NIU’s first possession, but the Rockets responded with a 11-point outburst to give UT an insurmountable 45-22 advantage with 14:31 remaining. Toledo’s lead didn’t dip below 20 points the remainder of the evening.
Toledo will close out its 2012-13 campaign on Saturday, March 9 at Eastern Michigan (14-16, 7-8 MAC). Tip-off time is set for Noon.