TOP EAST TEAMS TO COLLIDE:
Though the league schedule is only a week-plus old, the top two teams in the East Division are on a collision course to meet on Saturday in Buffalo. Should Buffalo and Kent each win its conference games during the week against Northern Illinois and Ohio, respectively, the two will both be unbeaten when the pair face one another for the first of two regular season meetings.
KENT REMAINS ON FIRE:
Kent increased its consecutive MAC regular season winning streak to 13 straight with an 86-60 win at home over Akron. The Golden Flashes, who last lost a league regular season contest to the Zips on Jan. 16, 1999, also won their 24th straight contest on their home court. The streak is tied for the second current longest in mark in Division I, equaling Belmont's streak and trailing Grambling's 60 straight. Kent attempts for its 25th straight on Wednesday when it hosts Ohio.
THE NON-CONFERENCE LOOK:
After the first eight weeks of the season, the Mid-American Conference has posted a 60-73 non-conference record, which translates into a .451 winning percentage. That mark also includes an 0-8 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 Jan. 9), the Mid-American Conference was ranked No. 17 among the 32 Division I conferences. The MAC had four schools in the top-150 -- Kent (No. 51), Buffalo (No. 81), Western Michigan (No. 112) and Ohio (No. 139) -- and nine of the 13 schools in the top 200.
WMU KICKIN' IT IN OVERDRIVE:
After a 2-7 start to its season, Western Michigan has won its last three games, including two league games. While the Broncos' scoring production is down in league contests (69.7- overall to 65.0- in MAC games), the team's defense is allowing nearly 17 fewer points (75.8-59.0) and is leading the league in scoring defense.
HANKS LOGGING MORE MINUTES:
With Akron decimated with injuries, younger and less experienced players are eating up the bulk of the minutes this season. Junior Katie Hanks is one who is showing off her talents as she tallied 20 points, two steals and a pair of rebounds in a carer-best 34 minutes of action in the Zips' loss to Kent on Saturday. Hanks, who also established a career-best 22 points two weeks ago against Niagara, averaged 14 points in nearly 30 minutes a game.
CLIMBING OUT IS NOT EASY:
Ball State's career-high 22 points from Laurie Kitts went for not on Saturday as the Cardinals lost 74-69 at Central Michigan. BSU, which outscored the Chippewas 44-36 in the second half, fell behind by 13 at the half, 38-25, after shooting only 28 percent from the floor. After leading 12-2 and 15-12 early in the game, Ball State was out-gunned 26-10 in the final nine-plus minutes of the first half.
LUCKY 13 ON THE HORIZON?:
Buffalo used a 54-point second half and 58 percent shooting from the floor in the second stanza to erase a 13 point halftime deficit against Bowling Green for its 12th straight win, an 85-81 road victory. That was the good news. The bad news is that the team's leading scorer, Tiffany Bell, suffered a sprained ankle in the process and played only 23 minutes. The Bulls, who received 26 points from Tara Perrier and 18 from Kim Kilepla, will try for No. 13 in a row Monday night at Northern Illinois.
IT'S MILLER TIME IN BG:
After being held to a season-low four points versus Kent, Bowling Green sophomore Francine Miller bounced back at Central Michigan, scoring a career-high 28 points against the Chippewas, including 20 in the second half. Miller, who also had 10 rebounds, notched six of the Falcons' last eight baskets of the game, and scored 14 of BG's 16 points in one second-half stretch. The sophomore added 18 points against Buffalo and shot a stellar 72 percent (18-of-25) from the field in last week's two games. Miller has posted a team-high five double-doubles, including four in her last six games.
CMU AND THE JONES FACTOR:
Central Michigan sophomore Vershaun Jones posted a pair of double-doubles last week that were both near triple-doubles. The forward had 14 points, 12 rebounds and nine steals against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and 15 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists versus Ball State. The nine steals tied a CMU record and the 19 rebounds are the second-best total in CMU history. The steals mark is a conference high for the year, while the rebound total is second to Cheryl Bowles' 21 against Youngstown State.
BENCH SUPPORT IGNITES EMU:
Eastern Michigan has gotten quite a bit of help off the bench in the early going, as the subs have averaged 24.3 points per game in the first 14 games. Sophomore Kris Kachaturoff has been the main sparkplug off the bench, leading the reserves at 8.5 points per game.
THE POWER OF THE NUMBER 20:
Kent is 5-2 in games this season in which one Golden Flash scores 20 or more points. However, the Flashes are just 1-1 when two players hit for 20 or more tallies. Dawn Zerman had 28 points Kent's 82-61 win at Bowling Green on Jan. 2, marking the 20th time in Zerman's career that she scored 20 or more points in a game. Kent's three MAC wins have come by an average of 21.7 points and the eight total wins have been by an average margin of 20.3 points. The average age of Kent's team is 20.3 years.
STILL SCORING WHEN ILL:
Prior to Saturday's game with Western Michigan, Marshall's Yashico Stevens informed the coaching staff that she was ill, which prevented her from starting the contest. Even though she was under the weather, Stevens still came off the bench to score 17 points and grab six rebounds in 30 minutes of action.
SOMETHING TO HALLER ABOUT:
Northern Illinois senior Charbea Haller registered a career-best 23 points against Marshall last Wednesday, and did it with a broken index finger on her shooting hand. She followed that with 15 points, a career-best seven rebounds and dished out six assists. For the week, Haller averaged 19 points in two contests, and in her last four games has averaged 18 points per game.
A LITTLE UNDER THE NORM:
Ohio's Jacquie Negrelli led the Bobcats in scoring for the seventh time this season with 19 against Buffalo, while Brittany Collins added a season-best 18. Unfortunately for Ohio, the pair were the only players to score double digits in scoring, marking the second-lowest total of the season. The 53 points for the Bobcats were the lowest since they scored 52 against Purdue last year, and was also nearly 20 points off their scoring average.
A STREAK OF A DIFFERENT KIND:
While Toledo had its 14-game home winning streak come to an end in the season opener to nationally-ranked Notre Dame, the Rockets still have a streak intact at Savage Hall. Entering Tuesday's game with arch rival Bowling Green, Toledo has won 15 straight MAC games, both regular and postseason games. UT's last loss to a MAC team at Savage Hall was a 77-68 setback to Kent last season.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM:
Western Michigan played its record and league-leading third overtime contest of the season against Toledo. After losing overtime decisions at San Francisco and Georgia Tech, the Broncos were able to post their first win in an overtime game since the 1989 season when they defeated rival Central Michigan 68-58. Western Michigan is now 8-5 all time in games that require bonus time.
A NEAR TRIPLE IN THE MAC:
It was a case of near triple-doubles last week in the MAC, with Central Michigan's Vershaun Jones (see earlier note) and Buffalo's Sonia Ortega almost pulling off the feat. Ortega had nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists against Ohio, then followed that with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. In addition, Miami's Heather Cusick also came close to a triple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists versus Toledo.
BOMBS AWAY IN MT. PLEASANT:
After tying a school record with 24 three-point attempts at Ohio the previous week, Central Michigan outdid themselves last week. CMU tossed up a record 31 three-point attempts against Bowling Green, making 10 of them. Ball State then bettered that with 33 attempts from beyond the arc against the Chippewas later in the week, also connecting on 10. In CMU's three games last week, a total of 135 three-pointers were attempted for an average of 45 per game or 22.2 per team.
GETTING AHEAD IS KEY FOR EMU:
For Eastern Michigan, getting a lead and maintaining it is a key for the Eagles this year. When leading at halftime, Eastern is 7-1 this season, while it is 8-0 when leading with five minutes to play in the game. EMU is also 8-2 when it has a better field goal percentage than its opponents.
KENT IS SCORING IN BUNCHES:
The Golden Flashes have scored 80 or more points in each of their last five games, and are averaging 85.0 points per contest against league teams. The last time Kent had five straight games with 80 or more points was Jan. 3-14, 1998. Overall, Kent is averaging 79.7 points per game to lead the league in scoring.
HOME IS WHERE THE BOARDS ARE:
Senior Danielle Mueller grabbed 11 boards in Western Michigan's win over Marshall Saturday at University Arena. That total actually brought her home rebounding average down. Mueller had totaled 35 boards in the Broncos' previous two home games, including a career-best 18 caroms against Toledo. Mueller grabbed 17 against Detroit earlier in the year.
IT'S A BATTLE OF THE SISTERS:
The parents of Sherry and Teresa Kahle will have mixed emotions when Bowling Green takes the court at Toledo Tuesday. Sherry, the older of the two, is averaging 10.5 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Falcons, while her younger sister, Teresa, is a freshman forward for the Rockets. Teresa has played in all 12 UT games to date, starting one and is averaging 1.5 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.
BSU FOR THREE!:
Through 13 games, Ball State has connected on 92 three-point baskets and is chasing the single season mark of 122 made three-point field goals made set during the 1997-98 season. With 304 attempted treys, the Cardinals are closing in on the record of 374 attempts, set in the 1995-96 campaign.