Thursday's MAC Men's Basketball Results
Western Michigan 75, Kent State 59
Ball State 71, Buffalo 68
Stories courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments
Western Michigan 75, Kent State 59
KENT, Ohio - The Western Michigan men's basketball team maintained a double-digit lead for the duration of the second half, and the Broncos snapped a 10-game losing streak in Kent, Ohio with a 75-59 victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes on Thursday. With the win, the Broncos improve to 10-7 on the season, 3-2 in Mid-American Conference play.
The Broncos put the hammer down quickly and decisively against the Golden Flashes, taking a 10-point lead at halftime and tacking on into the second half. WMU was able to break the Golden Flashes' press for high percentage shots, going 14-of-25 (.560) in the second half with alley-oop dunks and open three-pointers. The Broncos controlled the glass against the Golden Flashes, out-rebounding them 42-32, and limited them to just eight second chance points.
Shayne Whittington scored a game-high 18 points on a sterling 8-of-11 from the floor, while also recording six rebounds, one blocked shot, and one steal. David Brown ran his streak of consecutive double-digit scoring games to 22 straight with 17 points, while also adding six rebounds, and freshman Tucker Haymond set a career-high with 16 points. Connar Tava recorded a game-high 10 rebounds.
The win for the Broncos snapped what was a 10-game losing streak at the M.A.C. Center that dated back to the 1995-96 season. The last win for WMU in Kent came on Feb. 17, 1996, when the Broncos downed the Golden Flashes 84-70. It is also the first time the Broncos have won back-to-back games against the Golden Flashes since winning two in a row from 2004-05.
Kent State led WMU 6-4 with 14:24 remaining in the first half after Kris Brewer made a free throw, but Haymond gave the Broncos the lead for good with a baseline lay-up at the 13:00 mark to make it 8-6. A.J. Avery had a putback slam dunk on the Broncos' next offensive possession to make it 10-6, and from there WMU was rolling. Brown completed an old-fashioned three-point play with a lay-up make and a free throw after drawing contact from Brewer to make it 14-9, and the lead grew to seven points when Haymond finished off a similar play with 6:52 remaining in the half.
Haymond gave the Broncos their largest lead of the half with a lay-up at the 3:24 mark to make it 31-20, and Kellen McCormick held the edge at 10 points by making a three-pointer with under a minute remaining to make it 34-24 at the half.
Not content to sit on that lead, the Broncos came out on fire in the second half with a 16-3 run, taking a 19-point lead with 16:17 remaining in regulation when Austin Richie drained a three-pointer from the wing at the end of a press break. The press break continued to be effective on the next two possessions, with Taylor Perry throwing an alley-oop to Whittington for a dunk to make it 48-27, and Tava throwing one to Whittington on the very next possession to up the Broncos' lead to 50-27 with 15:11 remaining.
The lead hovered around 20 points until the under-8:00 media timeout, with the Golden Flashes putting on a desperate rush to pull closer. The closest they would get was 14 points away on a jumper in the paint from Brewer to cut it to 71-57, but Brown and Richie added free throws down the stretch to push the lead back up. Tava tacked on a lay-up with 11 seconds remaining to set the final deficit at 75-59.
Ball State 71, Buffalo 68
MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State men’s basketball team broke out in a big way Thursday night, taking down one of the hottest teams in the Mid-American Conference at Worthen Arena.
Jesse Berry came off the bench to score 21 points, and the Cardinals topped Buffalo 71-68 to snap a four-game losing skid to start league play. The Bulls (9-6, 3-2 MAC) were picked to finish second in the MAC East Division and entered the week tied atop the standings.
Chris Bond logged his fifth career double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds to go along with four steals for Ball State (4-12, 1-4 MAC). Franko House finished with a career-high 12 points and Majok Majok also added 12.
“I am really happy for our guys,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “College basketball is a grind. Our guys have worked really hard all season, and it’s hard psychologically when you keep coming up on the wrong end of the stick. I was pleased for us to get a big win and let the guys feel good.
"We all know Buffalo is a really good team in our conference, and we are showing we can compete with good teams when we do things well. It was a really rewarding win for us.”
Javon McCrea led Buffalo with 28 points, including 18 in the first half, and Joshua Freelove scored 15. But Ball State was able to keep the rest of the Bulls’ lineup in check.
In a game that featured 15 ties and 10 lead changes, House put Ball State ahead for good at 69-67 on a jumper with 45 seconds to play. McCrea cut the deficit to one by making one of two free throws on the other end, but the Bulls were then forced to foul. Berry hit both of his foul shots to extend the lead to 71-68, and the Cardinals held the Bulls off on their final two looks.
“We needed Franko to play well, and he did,” Whitford said. “They were using his man to crowd Majok a lot early, and he felt a little uncomfortable at first because he was so open. He was able to move around and get angles to the rim and drive it, and he finished. And obviously Jesse’s play was terrific and a big difference in the game.”
Berry earned 10 free throw attempts on the night – including two trips when he was fouled shooting 3-pointers – and connected on all 10 of them. He also shot 3-for-6 from beyond the arc on the way to his highest point total since the season opener at Indiana State.
Ball State had struggled with turnovers since the start of conference play but limited itself to 14 giveaways, five shy of its average in league games. The Cardinals connected on 49.1 percent from the floor to Buffalo’s 44.8 percent and won the rebounding battle (35-32) for the eighth straight game.
It was a tight contest throughout. Buffalo’s largest lead came by seven points during the first half, while Ball State’s largest margin was the three points on the final scoreboard. Buffalo led by four with 3:30 to play, but back-to-back baskets from Majok evened the score, and it was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way.
Ball State returns to action Sunday with a 2 p.m. contest at Western Michigan. The game, which is the Cardinals’ first of the season against a MAC West opponent, will be televised by the Ball State Sports Network.