Women's Basketball Race Begins To Take Shape

Updated 1/17/1996
TOLEDO REMAINS ON ROLL:
Toledo remains the hottest team in the Mid-American Conference, winning its last eight games. The Rockets (10-1), who posted wins last week over Eastern Michigan, Ball State and Western Michigan, have opened up a two-game lead in the loss column over the Cardinals (9-3).

UT's magic number to clinch the MAC West Division crown is four.

The Rockets, who received three votes in last weeks Associated Press Top-25 poll, picked up 12 this week and are ranked No. 35. Toledo is the last MAC school to climb into the AP top-25, making an appearance in the final regular season poll of the 1998-99 season.

BUFFALO-KENT STATE CLASH, PART II:
Kent State and Buffalo will meet for the second time this season in a Valentines Day encounter in Kent on Wednesday. The Golden Flashes (10-2) sit atop the East Division standings with a two-game lead in the loss column over the Bulls, who are 7-4 in the league but have won their last three contests. Kent State, which has won three straight and eight of its last 10 games, defeated the Bulls 68-60 in Buffalo on Jan. 10 behind 24 points from Carrie Nance. KSU's magic number to claim the East Division crown is three.

OHIO'S TWENTY-SOMETHING:
Ohio's Lori Moorman (25), Cathy Szall (23) and Ronita Whitfield (21) each topped 20 points Saturday, marking the first time since Feb. 21, 1998 that three Bobcats topped that plateau. It is also the first time that the feat has been accomplished in the MAC this season. Ironically, the Huskies Michelle Johnson (28) and Jen Youngblood (24) also scored 20-plus to increase the game's total to five.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP CARRIES BULLS:
In both games last week, Buffalo's four seniors all scored in double figures, with Tiffany Bell leading the way with 25 points against Western Michigan and 28 points against Ball State. All four seniors also scored in double figures in back-to-back games against Wisconsin-Milwaukee (12/2) and Youngstown State (12/6) earlier this season, giving the Bulls a 4-0 record when that happens.

KENT STATE'S STREAK NOW LONGEST:
Kent State extended its school- and MAC-record for consecutive home wins with an 80-68 win over Northern Illinois on Feb. 8. The Golden Flashes' 41-game home winning streak is the nations longest current streak. It is also tied for the 20th longest streak in NCAA Division I history with Texas Tech, which had its streak snapped last Saturday against Texas.

Along with the current 41-game home winning streak, the Golden Flashes have also won 50 consecutive home contests versus MAC schools. Kent State's next home game will be Feb. 14 against Buffalo.

KENT STATE'S ONE-TWO PUNCH:
In Kent State's win at home Feb. 8 over Northern Illinois seniors Carrie Nance and Julie Studer combined for 55 points. It is the most points scored by a Kent State duo since Ann Forbes and Tracey Lynn combined for 72 points in a 106-103 victory over Bowling Green March 3, 1992.

Both had career-high nights in the victory. Nance was 6-of-16 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free throw stripe in hitting for a career-high 28. Studer was 13-of-19 from the field and scored 27 points.

PENCIL BSU'S ZERCHER IN THE LINEUP:
Ball State's Amy Zercher has started all 52 games in her Ball State career and will make her 53rd start Wednesday against Western Michigan. Zercher scored eight points and 12 rebounds at Buffalo Saturday. She managed the fourth double-double of her career with 18 points and 10 rebounds at Marshall Jan. 20. For the season, Zercher is fifth on the team in scoring at 8.2 points per game and tied for second in rebounding at 7.0 per contest, which is 10th in the league.

DEURLOO'S STREAK CONTINUES:
Western Michigan junior Karen Deurloo extended her impressive streak Saturday against Toledo. Deurloo scored 24 points and was 9-for-15 (.600) from the field against the Rockets, marking the 11th consecutive game the junior has scored 10 or more points and shot .500 or better from the field. Deurloo kept the streak alive, barely, with 10 points and a .500 (4-of-8) night at Buffalo Wednesday. The junior has been a bright spot in a tough season for Western Michigan. On the year, she is shooting .571 from the field and averaging 16.7 ppg in her first full season at the Division I level.

FALCONS HAVE A BLOCK PARTY:
Bowling Green blocked a total of seven shots in Wednesdays (Feb. 7) win over Ohio. That total was BG's most since a four-overtime game at Ball State two years ago. Freshman Kelly Kapferer had four blocked shots vs. Ohio, the most of her brief Falcon career. That total was the most by a Falcon in over five years, since Michelle Terry had four vs. Eastern Michigan on Jan. 17, 1996. The school record is six, set on three occasions.

BOWLES HELPS ZIPS TO WINS:
Akron senior Cheryl Bowles has been displaying the scoring touch of late that has etched her name into the school record books and one of the top scorers in MAC history. Bowles helped the Zips to wins last week over Central Michigan and Bowling Green by averaging 19.0 points and connecting on 70 percent of her shots from the floor.

The center, who also averaged eight rebounds per contest, had 22 points on 10-of-10 shooting against Central Michigan, then had 16 points versus Bowling Green, 14 of which came in the second half. Bowles is 18th in MAC history with 1,638 points.

A LOOK AT TOLEDO'S STREAK:
During Toledo's eight-game winning streak, the Rockets have been outscoring their opponents by 16.4 points per game while limiting the opposition to 39 percent shooting from the field. Toledo, meanwhile, has hit on 52 percent of its shots from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc. Melantha Herron, this week's MAC West Division Player of the Week, is averaging 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest during the streak and is also connecting on 64 percent of her shots from the field.

MAC WOMEN IN SPORT WEEK:
MAC Women in Sport Week, the conferences celebration of young girls involvement in sports, kicked off 12 days of activities surrounding National Girls and Women In Sports Day with its You Go Girl campaign, which began on Feb. 3 and runs until Feb. 14.

The MAC has sponsored a poster contest which is presented by Kraft, the tournament sponsor of the womens basketball tournament. Each schools team will select a winner of the contest at a designated game and that winner will receive four all-session tickets to the 2001 Kraft MAC Womens Basketball tournament. In addition, the winner will also receive a gift basket courtesy of Kraft, will be recognized at halftime of the womens championship game and will have their poster displayed in Gund Arena during the tournament.

This week's You Go Girl games include: Bowling Green at Miami (Feb. 12), Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan and Buffalo at Kent State (both Feb. 14).

DOUBLING YOUR PLEASURE:
Northern Illinois' Jennifer Youngblood leads the MAC in double-doubles with nine after her 24-point, 10 rebound performance versus Ohio. The freshman has registered a double-double in three of her last four games. Below is a list of the league leaders in double-doubles:

MAC Double-Double Leaders
Jennifer Youngblood, NIU 9
Julie Studer, KSU 8
Kahli Carter, UT 7
Tamara Bowie, BSU 7
Beth Kindel, CMU 5
Karen Deurloo, WMU 5
Shani Charles, EMU 5
Four tied with  4

KNABLE IS MORE THAN ABLE:
Marshall's Catie Knable has made her name into one of the top freshmen in the MAC. The forward leads the Thundering Herd with 7.3 rebounds per game and is adding eight points per outing. The true freshman also leads the team in blocks with nine. Knables rebound average is second among freshmen to NIUs Jennifer Youngblood, who is fourth overall in the MAC at 7.5 per game, which is tied for seventh in the league.

WHO LET THE KACH OUT:
Eastern Michigan junior Kris Kachaturoff has been a spark plug lately for the Eagles. Over the last five games, Kach has been averaging 13.4 points and 7.0 rebounds, including a pair of double-doubles. Her most recent performance was 18 points and 11 rebounds in the home win over Marshall, Feb. 10.

BSU TIES SCHOOL RECORD FOR WINS:
Ball State's 17 wins matches the 1974-75 team and the 1989-90 for the most wins in school history. The 33 wins to date for second-year head coach Brenda Oldfield are also the most wins in back-to-back seasons in school annals. In addition, the Cardinals are off to 9-3 start in MAC play. The nine victories are tied for the second-most in one year in school history -- the school record for MAC wins is 11, set in the 1996-97 season.

A LOOK AT THE RPI:
In this latest installment of the College Basketball News Womens RPI Report and the WBCA Summerville RPI rankings (through games of Feb. 11), the Mid-American Conference was ranked No. 17 and No. 15, respectively among 31 conferences in both listings. The MAC has five schools in the top-150 and eight in the top-200.

School CBN/WBCA
Toledo 62/61
Kent State 112/116
Ball State 115/114
Eastern Michigan 132/131
Buffalo 128/132
Northern Illinois 157/154
Miami 160/159
Western Michigan 178/183

'BO' KNOWS FREE THROWS:
Northern Illinois sophomore forward Kim Boeding was the difference in the second overtime versus Ohio, hitting eight consecutive free throws. She got to the line after collecting three key rebounds in the final five-minute session, part of her 15-point, eight-rebound total. Boeding has now connected on 20 consecutive attempts from the charity stripe, including four at Kent State, two at Buffalo and three versus Central Michigan. Kris Weis owns the school record with 37 in a row during a 10 game stretch in 1989-90.

CMU'S SCORING SURGE:
After recent scoring slumps, two Central Michigan players have opened up the scoring barrage. Freshman Mandy Elwer scored a career-high 13 points against Akron last Tuesday after scoreless efforts in each of her previous four contests. Alicia Rozak has been scoring in bunches of late for the Chippewas. The junior is averaging 14.3 points a game over her last three games.

UB'S DOZIER CLOSES IN ON 50 WINS:
Buffalo head coach Cheryl Dozier is just one win away from recording her 50th career win with a 49-29 record at Buffalo. Doziers .628 winning percentage is the fourth-highest of all time at UB and her 49 wins to date are the third highest total posted by any coach in UB womens basketball history.

PRESEASON POLL REVISITED:
Below is a comparison of the leagues preseason poll, which was released back in October, in relation to where the teams stand with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

East Division -- Pick +/-
Kent State 1st/even
Buffalo 4th/+2
Miami 2nd/-1
Bowling Green 5th/+1
Ohio  6th/+1
Akron  3rd/-3
Marshall 7th/even

West Division -- Pick +/- Toledo 4th/+3 Ball State 3rd/+1 Northern Illinois 5th/+2 Eastern Michigan 2nd/-2 Western Michigan 1st/-4 Central Michigan 6th/even

CONSISTENT ON THE CHARITY SIDE:
Miami's Hollie Nelsen has now connected on 31 of her last 35 free throw attempts (88.6 percent), dating back to Miamis 77-71 setback at Kentucky on Nov. 21 when she was a perfect 2-for-2. In seven different contests this year, Nelsen has made all of the free throws she has attempted, including Miamis most recent victory versus Marshall (Feb. 7).

Beth Roederer has connected on 16 of her last 19 free throws (84 percent), including hitting a perfect 100 percent against Detroit, Toledo and Kent State twice. Jana Butler has now made 14 of her last 16 free throws, including a perfect 3-for-3 in Miami's latest game against Marshall.

SMILEY IS LIKE A ROCK:
Eastern Michigan's Stephanie Smiley has been the leader of this Eastern squad since her first season on the floor, and this year is no different. This season, Smiley is currently averaging 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists a contest. She ranks first on the team in assists, steals and blocked shots (22 total) second in scoring and rebounds and third in field goal percentage (.472) and three-point percentage (.378). Smiley just moved into the EMU career top-10 in scoring (10th, 946) and also ranks in three-pointers made (3rd, 111), three-pointers attempted (4th, 287), assists (t-2nd, 395), steals (7th, 175), blocks (2nd, 67), and rebounds (11th, 522).

3-POINT STREAKS AROUND THE MAC:
Toledo has currently made at least one three-point field goal in each of its last 161 contests, dating back to Jan. 24, 1996. While the Rockets current streak trails Western Michigans 173 consecutive games, Toledo has hit a three-pointer in 364 of its last 365 games. Below is a look at each of the teams present streak of consecutive games with a made three-point field goal.

Consecutive Games With A 3-Point Field Goal Made (Start of streak):
Western Michigan -- 173 (1/18/95)
Toledo -- 161 (1/24/96)
Eastern Michigan -- 124 (12/22/96)
Central Michigan -- 102 (11/29/97)
Bowling Green -- 78 (3/13/98)
Miami -- 75 (11/14/98)
Marshall -- 40 (12/29/99)
Kent State -- 39 (1/15/00)
Ball State -- 32 (2/25/00)
Buffalo -- 25 (2/25/00)
Akron -- 15 (12/8/00)
Ohio -- 12 (1/3/01)
Northern Illinois -- 9 (1/13/01)

BIG WEEK FOR THE ZIPS:
For the first time this season, Akron has posted back-to-back wins. The Zips, who defeated Central Michigan and Bowling Green, are averaging 81.5 points in over their last two games. Prior to the two contests, Akron was averaging 56.2 points a game. The team also notched a +17.5 rebounding margin over the Chippewas and Falcons. UA's win last Saturday against BGSU saw season highs in points scored (88), three-point field goals made (9) and rebounds (50). Individually, two Zips tallied career-highs in points, Jamie Krivak (24) and Julie McDivitt (19).

SAMUELSON'S HOOP IQ GROWING:
When Western Michigan played at Toledo Jan. 27, rookie Emily Samuelson scored just four points on 1-of-4 shooting against UTs tough defense. The second time the two teams squared off, Samuelson demonstrated that she had absorbed up some valuable knowledge from the first contest. The freshman scored 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field against the Rockets Saturday, scoring many of her points on drives to the hoop. Samuelson has averaged 13.5 ppg and has seven double digit scoring games under her belt in conference play.

NOT LIKING THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE?:
Ohio senior Ronita Whitfield posted her first career double-double on Saturday, adding a career-high 12 rebounds to her scoring total of 21 points. She had previously grabbed nine boards against Akron last week. Lori Moorman recorded her fourth double-double of the season Wednesday with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Ironically, Ohio is just 1-4 this season when one of its players tops double figures in scoring and rebounding in the same game.

THE FARMER IN THE ZONE:
Opposing defenders who left Bowling Green senior Angie Farmer open last week did so at their own risk. Farmer went 5-of-5 in the win over Ohio Wednesday, and she drained her first five shots, including four from three-point range, at Akron. Farmers 10 consecutive successful field goals included six treys.

NIU GOING THE EXTRA SESSIONS:
Saturday's double-overtime contest with Ohio was the fifth in Northern Illinois 867-game history to go two or more overtimes. Northern Illinois had lost its first three of those games, but Carol Hammerle team is now 2-0 in games lasting at least 50 minutes. The Huskies defeated Buffalo 77-68 in double-overtime on Jan. 23, 1999. Previously, NIU dropped a 65-63 decision against Illinois State on March 5, 1972, along with a 101-91 setback versus Washington on Nov. 30, 1991. One game went to triple overtime before Miami outlasted NIU 102-94 on Jan. 19, 1985.

THE NON-CONFERENCE LOOK:
The Mid-American Conference finished the regular season with a 67-76 record in non-conference action (.468), including a 2-9 slate versus nationally-ranked opponents. The MAC completed the 1999-00 season with a 62-77 non-conference record, which translated into a .446 winning percentage. That mark also included a 1-9 record against nationally-ranked opponents. In 1998-99, the MACs record in non-conference play was 59-66 (.472).

BSU FEATURED IN DIARY ON ESPN.COM:
The Ball State women's basketball team, under the direction of second-year head coach Brenda Oldfield, will receive national attention for the remainder of the basketball season on ESPN.com. Sophomores Amy Zercher and Tamara Bowie will provide an inside look to BSU womens basketball every week by submitting a diary which will be posted on the front page of the womens college basketball site on ESPN.com.

MAC TOURNEY MOVES TO GUND:
The 2001 Mid-American Conference Womens Basketball Tournament returns to Cleveland for a second consecutive year but will have a new location and a title sponsor. The MAC Women's Basketball Tournament will be held at Gund Arena, Tuesday, March 6 and Friday-Saturday, March 9-10. The league office announced in October at its media day that Kraft has signed a two-year agreement and will serve as the title sponsor of the tournament. Five first-round games are slated for Saturday, March 3, with the two division winners and the team with the next best overall MAC record and winning percentage receiving a bye to the quarterfinals. Eight teams will convene in the Rock 'N Roll city for quarterfinal action on Tuesday, March 6. Two semifinal contests are set for Friday, March 9, while the championship game is slated for Saturday, March 10.

Individual game tickets for action at Gund Arena went on sale Monday, Jan. 29. General admission tickets for adults will be $10, while student general admission seating is $5.