MAC STARTS OFF STRONG:
Mid-American Conference women's basketball started off the 2000-01 season with a strong showing as league schools won 10 of 14 games, compared to three wins in 12 tries a year ago in the first weekend of action.
League schools picked up victories over previously ranked North Carolina (95-89 win by Buffalo), Missouri Valley's Bradley (87-69 win by Ball State) and Illinois State (83-60 win by Northern Illinois) and a triumph over Atlantic-10 foe Dayton (77-58 win by Toledo).
In addition, other wins came against Youngstown State, St. Bonaventure, Boston University, Chicago State, Coppin State and Maryland-Eastern Shore.
UB UPSETS UNC, SETS SCHOOL RECORD:
Buffalo opened the year with a 95-89 win over No. 22 North Carolina in front of a school-record crowd of 4,017. Mari McClure scored a career-high 35 points for the Bulls, while preseason all-MAC performer Tiffany Bell added 28 points. The duo hit on 24-of-28 attempts from the free throw line, with 15 of Bells 28 points coming in the final six minutes of the game.
The win marked the schools first win over a nationally-ranked opponent and a school from the ACC, a feat that no UB men's basketball or football team has yet to accomplish. In addition, the win was also the schools 400th victory in the history of the program and improved the Bulls home opening record to 26-6. Buffalo last lost a home opener in 1990.
BEGGS SETS MARK FOR CHARITY:
Kent State's Liz Beggs broke the school record, MAC record, and tied two NCAA marks for consecutive free-throws made in a game and free-throw percentage in a game. Beggs was 20-of-20 (1.000) from the free-throw stripe against St. Bonaventure, which tied the NCAA records set by Kristeena Alexander of George Mason who was also 20-of-20 (1.000) on Dec. 29, 1996 against the University of Central Florida. Her 24 points and 15 rebounds were also both career-highs.
IMPRESSIVE COLLEGE DEBUTS:
There were several impressive debuts over the weekend by freshmen playing in their first collegiate contests. Northern Illinois' Lindsay Secrest, who was named the West Division Co-Player of the Week, had 26 points in 27 minutes in the Huskies win over Illinois State. Bowling Green first-year player Lindsay Austin was the first freshman to start a season opener in four years and had 15 points, four assists and three steals in the Falcons win over Youngstown State. Miamis Kim Lancaster scored 30 points against Boston University, while Kent States Christi Shibata had 16 points and seven rebounds against St. Bonaventure. Also, Ball States Jessica Reiter had 15 points versus Bradley.
READY TO GET STARTED:
Ten of the 13 MAC schools kicked off the season last weekend, while three others will tip-off their campaigns this week. Marshall and Ohio will open the season on Tuesday, with the Thundering Herd hosting Youngstown State and the Bobcats traveling on the road to face Evansville. Western Michigan, meanwhile, will open the year on Saturday, when it travels to Wake Forest.
THE HERDS FIRE POWER:
Marshall should benefit by the return of its top three scorers from a year ago, which finished 8-20. Yaschico Stevens (13.8 ppg), Toni Patillo (10.8 ppg) and Marisa Williams (8.3 ppg) accounted for 53% of the Herd's offense last season. In fact, Marshall returns 75% of its scoring from last season.
BISHOP SCORING AT BOTH ENDS:
Eastern Michigan's Dru Bishop played a key part in the Eagles success in the opening three games of the season. In the two games at the Best Western Eagle Classic, Bishop averaged 14.5 points (after averaging just 4.1 ppg last season) in the two contests and was 50% from the field and a stellar 67% from the three-point arc. She added 3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, earning her Tournament Most Valuable Player honors in leading EMU to the team title. At No. 4 Purdue, she played a career-high 36 minutes and helped limit the Boilermakers' All-American, Katie Douglas, to just five points in the first half and 15 overall.
VETERANS SPARK FALCONS:
Seniors Afra Smith and Angie Farmer tallied 20 points each in Bowling Greens win over Youngstown State, and the Falcons played most of the first half without Francine Miller, who picked up three fouls early and played only four minutes in the opening 20 minutes. Miller, who finished with 18 points, had the games first seven points.
CARTER PACES UT IN WIN:
Toledo's Kahli Carter scored a career-high 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the Rockets win over Dayton. Carter also connected on a career-high 11 field goals, while Tia Davis grabbed a career-best 11 boards. The Rockets shot 53 percent from the field, including a 60 percent rate in the second half versus the Flyers, which was the schools first road opener since the 1995-96 season.
SCHEDULE DRAWS TOUGH FOES:
If the rigors of the MAC schedule isnt tough enough, consider the non-conference opponents that league schools have drawn for the 2000-01 season. MAC schools will face 13 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago, with the possibility of facing two others in different tournaments.
In addition, nine others who were chosen to play in the WNIT last season dot MAC school schedules, with an opportunity to face potentially five more in various tournaments.
CMU STARTS OFF ON LOW NOTE:
For the third straight year, Central Michigan opened the season 0-2. The Chippewas dropped contests to Providence and Binghamton at Minnesotas Sheraton Four Points Classic. Freshman Beth Kindel posted a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds against Binghamton in her first game back from a medical redshirt. In the teams opener versus Providence, junior Vershaun Jones had 12 rebounds and 11 points.
KSU'S STREAK SETS MAC RECORD:
Kent State set a MAC record for consecutive home wins on Sunday with a 92-78 win over St. Bonaventure. The Golden Flashes' 32-game home winning streak, which is the nations second-longest current streak, moved ahead of Toledos 31-game winning streak, which ran from 1990-93. Division I Grambling presently has a 66-game winning streak, which is the third longest in the history of Division I, and is chasing Tennessees record of 69 straight home wins.
MAC SCHEDULE, PART II:
Along with the fact that MAC teams have scheduled at least 22 teams that made a postseason appearance last year is that 10 of those opponents finished in the Associated Press top 25 poll, including three in the top 10 -- Notre Dame (#5), Rutgers (#8) and Cal-Santa Barbara (#9). A possible fourth top 10 foe, Duke (#10), could be added to that list should Toledo face them in the Blue Devils' tournament in November.
THE MACS 1,000 POINT CLUB:
Since the 1981-82 season, 94 women's basketball players have amassed 1,000 or more career points while playing for a school that was part of the MAC during part of their career, and that list should grow more this year. Kent State's Julie Studer has 995 points and should be the first active player in the conference this season to attain the feat. Buffalo's Tiffany Bell, who has 1,143 career points, has registered 934 while the Bulls have been a member of the league.
WHAT AN ENDING FOR MIAMI:
Freshman Kim Lancaster scored 30 points in the RedHawks come-from-behind win against Boston University, which was two points shy of a school record. With Miami down by 11 points at the half against BU, she scored 20 second-half points to lead the RedHawks into overtime. Ironically, Lancaster was not expected to see action in the tournament at all due to a high ankle sprain.
THE NON-CONFERENCE LOOK:
The Mid-American Conference has a 10-5 record in non-conference action (.667) and is 1-1 versus nationally-ranked opponents. The MAC completed the 1999-00 season with a 62-77 non-conference record, which translates into a .446 winning percentage. That mark also includes a 1-9 record against nationally-ranked opponents. In 1998-99, the MACs record in non-conference play was 59-66 (.472).
BOWLES CONTINUES CLIMB:
Akron senior Cheryl Bowles, the MAC's active career leading scorer with 1,380 points, picked up 34 in the teams first two games. Bowles, who is 165 points from becoming the schools all-time scoring leader, is 20 points away from becoming the MACs 41st player to score 1,400 career points. The two-time preseason all-MAC player helped Akron to its first season-opening win since the 1996-97 campaign when the Zips defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore.