Bulls Capture 3rd MAC Title in 4 Years

When former Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley left the Bulls, fans feared the program would lose some of their dominance in the Mid-American Conference. Now head coach Nate Oats would disagree with that fear.

For the third time in four years, the Buffalo Bulls have punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament by winning the MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

This time it would come at the hands of the Toledo Rockets by a final of 76-66. Unfortunately for the Rockets, they were without MAC player of the year Tre’Shaun Fletcher.

The story of the game was the high pick and roll between MAC All-Third Team guard Wes Clark and MAC Sixth Man of the Year Nick Perkins. Oates went to this set time and time again, typically against guard Jaelan Sanford and center Luke Knapke. Sanford struggled all night to fight through the large frame of Perkins, and with Knapke sitting back instead of hedging, Clark poured in open jumpers all game to the tune of 26 points.

Perkins, after going just 1-8 in the first half, found a rhythm against a tired Knapke in the second half. “I just slowed down, got to my spot, and finished”, said Perkins. “That really was the big difference”. The big man would finish with 16 huge points.

Toledo would end the game with 3 starters in double digit scoring, led by Jaelan Sanford with 19. However, they were just never able to get over the hump in the second half. “The difference was on us… a couple bad turnovers back to back and missed wide open shots”, said the junior guard. “It was just on us”.

Despite having the NCAA Tournament now staring him in the face, Coach Oats pointed out how excited he was for next season. “Well, if you go to some NCAA tournaments, it is easy to recruit the best players, and you can keep this momentum rolling”, said the second year Buffalo coach. “And the recruiting class we’ve got coming in next year…we’ve got something building”.

Buffalo now awaits Selection Sunday to see where they are seeded and who they will be playing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

Kent State Wins Late as Ohio Fails on Final Shot

Cleveland, Ohio

In what was a very competitive and exciting game, the Kent State Golden Flashes edged out the Ohio Bobcats 68-66 to advance to the MAC Championship game. In what was a very back and forth game, the Flashes were able to hold on after a Jaylin Walker lay up with 4.1 seconds left that gave the Flashes the lead. For the Flashes Jimmy Hall had a big game with a double-double, he had 22 points and 10 rebounds. While Kevin Zabo added another 15 points with some big threes down the stretch. For Ohio Jaaron Simmons had 25 points and 7 rebounds while Kenny Kaminski had 16 points as well. The Flashes shot 41 percent from the field and 33 percent from three. While the Bobcats went 44 and 35 percent for themselves. Kent will play Akron tomorrow night to grab a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Zips and Flashes split the season series 1-1, both winning on the road.

After a few fouls to start the game, Kenny Kaminski got the scoring started for Ohio. Once the ice was broken, the scoring really started. At the first timeout of the game, Ohio held a 14-12 lead. Kaminski was up to 8 points for Ohio and for Kent St. Freshman Mitch Peterson had 8 points himself. The scoring slowed down a bit after the timeout. Both teams only mustering a few points. After an And-1 from Kent’s Adonis De La Rosa, Ohio went on a 7-0 run to give the Bobcats a 23-16 lead with 9:32 left in the half. The Golden Flashes ended the run after a steal and jumper from Kevin Zabo to cut the Ohio lead to 25-18 with 7:37 remaining in the first half. As the first half drew to a close, Kent St started cutting into Ohio’s lead. A lead that as once ten was down to 4 with 2:36 left in the half. Jimmy Hall would tie the game at 32 for the Flashes after an offensive rebound and putback. To end the first half, Ohio’s Jaaron Simmons hit a floater to put Ohio ahead 34-32 at half time.

For Ohio, Simmons and Kaminski each had 11 points, while for Kent St, Peterson and Hall each had 8. Ohio shot 44.8 percent and 33.3 percent from three. While Kent shot 35 percent and 29 percent from three.

To start the second half, Kent would tie the game after a few good possessions that Hall was a big part of. After 4 quick points from Ohio gave them the lead, Kent scored 4 quick points of their own to tie the game at 40. Kent State would take the lead after a Deon Edwards three to put the score at 43-42. Ohio would then tie the game again after a converted And-1 from Gavin Block tying the game at 45. After a couple of minutes of tough defensive basketball, Kent States Zabo hit a three to put the Flashes up 4, then after a steal he would make 1 of 2 free throws to extend the lead to 5 with 8:30 to play. Ohio would answer with 4 points of their own, to cut their deficit to one, at the 7:23 mark, Kent State held a 53-52 lead. After a slow couple of minutes, Zabo again hits a three for the Flashes and gave Kent a 4 point lead with 4 minutes remaining in the game. After a Simmons basket for Ohio that cut the lead to 2, Zabo hit another three for the Flashes, pushing their lead back up to 5. After an Ohio miss, the Flashes on a bad possession get a big three from Jalen Avery from way behind the Arc, Ohio would come down and hit a 2. Making the Score 64-58 with 2 minutes remaining in the game. After two misses from Jaylin Walker, Jaaron Simmons hits a step back three to cut the lead to just three, then on the next possession Jimmy Hall was fouled on a questionable call and would hit the 2 free throws to push the lead to 5 for the Flashes. On the following Ohio possession they would make 1 free throw, and on the second attempt, it was missed and rebounded by Ohio, the ball was then swung into the corner where Kaminski hit a three to cut the lead to just one. With 40.9 seconds left Kent St, held a 66-65 lead. Avery would miss a long three, and Kent would foul Simmons one the way down the court, with both teams being in the double bonus, Simmons went to the line to shot 2 free throws, with the chance to give Ohio the lead with 10.8 seconds remaining in the game. Simmons hit the first to tie the game at 66. Simmons would miss the second and Walker of Kent St would take the ball all the way down and put it in to give Kent St the lead with 4.1 seconds remaining. On the final Possession of the game Simmons took the ball up the court and lost track of time as Ohio did not even get a shot off. Kent State wins 68-66, advancing to the MAC Championship game tomorrow night to play Akron.

Huskies Advance to Finals with a Big Victory Over the Broncos

Cleveland, Oh- After a Wednesday where the top 3 teams lost, The Northern Illinois Huskies showed why they are the best team left in the tournament with a 83-55 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos. The Broncos where coming off a victory over the number 1 team Central Michigan on Wednesday. The Huskies had the lead for the entire game and shot very well from the floor, shooting 44 percent and 37 percent from three. The Huskies where led by Ally Lehman who put in 17 points with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Also for the Huskies Courtney Woods added 19 points as well, hit multiple threes along the way. Northern Illinois will play the winner of the Buffalo-Toledo game tomorrow for the MAC Championship and a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Courtney Woods opened up the game with the first basket for Northern Illinois on their first possession. The Western Michigan team then went on a small 6-0 run then North Illinois answered with 5 quick points of their own and half way through the first quarter Western Michigan held a small 8 to 7 lead. After the timeout, North Illinois went on a 9-0 which was led by Ally Lehman who score 5 during the run to give the Huskies a 16-8 lead. To end the first quarter Northern Illinois ended on a 11-2 run and led 18-10 after 1. Lehman had 7 for Northern Illinois, while for Western Michigan Najee Smith has 4.

To open up the second quarter, the Huskies went on a 12-6 run. Hitting a few threes along the way, to extend their lead to 30-16. As the quarter progressed, the Huskies counited to score while Western Michigan struggled to get any offense going. As the quarter drew to a close, Western Michigan hit their first three, and got some offense going after that. But the quarter ended and at half time the Huskies held a 20 point lead over the Broncos 44-24. Northern Illinois shot 52.3% from the floor and 43% from three. While Western Michigan only shot 26% and 18 percent from three. For the Huskies Lehman has 9 points while Kelly Smith added another 8 points. For Western Michigan Breanna Mobley leads all scorers with 10 and also had 6 rebounds.

After the third Quarter, no ground was made by the Broncos as the Huskies still held a 20 point lead 62-42. It was the highest scoring quarter to that point. For the Huskies Courtney Woods caught fire and hit 2 threes in the quarter and for Western Michigan Brenna Mobley continued her good game as she ended the quarter with a double-double having 17 points and 12 rebounds.

 

Kent Flashes Past Defending Champion Buffalo, Advance to Semi-Finals

Cleveland, OH- The last quarterfinal game of the day featured the third seeded Buffalo Bulls against the sixth seeded Kent State Golden Flashes. The team had split the season series; however Kent had won the previous matchup with dominating performances from Jimmy Hall and Jaylin Walker. Today would play out similarly.

The first half started much quicker than the previous quarterfinal game with the two offenses clicking, both shooting over 40%.

The ballgame was tied at 23-23 before a quick 6-0 run from the Flashes put Kent ahead the rest of the first half.

With star senior and All-MAC 1st Team selection Jimmy Hall Jr. put on the bench early with 2 fouls, Jaylin Walker and Deon Edwin (All-MAC Defensive Team) led the Flashes scoring pace with 11 points each. For Buffalo, the Bulls received some much-needed help from their top playmakers. Nick Perkins (MAC 6th Man of the Year) and Blake Hamilton (All-MAC 2nd Team) led the attack with 9 points each, as well as All-MAC Honorable Mention C.J. Massinburg who added 6 points and 3 rebounds in the first half.

The second half saw a bit more of a sluggish start, however Hall was finally able to get things going as he recorded a block, 2 rebounds, and a layup all within the first 4 minutes to add some swagger to his step. He would continue that dominance throughout the night.

Blake Hamilton was electric all night long; however he would pick up his 5th foul on a careless loose ball foul after he missed the previous layup. Hamilton finished with 17 points on 7-12 shooting for the night.

One of the bigger stories of the game was Buffalo senior Willie Conner, who was the MVP of last year’s tournament and averaged 13 points per game during the regular season. However, he would struggle big time tonight. Conner hit his first shot from the field with just over 7 minutes to play in the second half and that would be it. He did knock down 5 out of his 6 free throw to finish with 7 points on the night.

The real drama began to unfold late in the second half, as at the 2:30 mark, Jaylin Walker fouled Conner and picked up a quick technical for arguing the call. 4 free throws for Buffalo pulled them within 3, 65-62.

Nick Perkins also fouled out of the game with just under 2 minutes to go. Perkins shot poorly from the field but managed to be effective, putting in 11 points on 4-13 shooting.

With 12 seconds to go, Jimmy Hall, on a nice interior drop step, drew a foul and would head to the line. He would sink both from the line to give Kent a 68-65 lead.

Massinburg, despite a tremendous night, could not get his final three point heave at the buzzer to fall, as the Bulls would see their season end to the Flashes. 68-65.

On the night overall, both teams shot well below their normal average, with Kent and Buffalo shooting 35% (42% and 44% normally, respectively). Jimmy Hall finished with 24 points on 6-13 shooting, adding in 8 rebounds as well. Deon Edwin also had a big night for KSU, putting in 14 points on 5-12 shooting and grabbing 11 boards to give him a double-double. Jaylin Walker also added in 12 points for the Flashes.

The Flashes will be back in action tomorrow night in the semi-finals where they will take on Ohio. Check out the post-game press conference with Kent State below!

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/user-770818477/kent-state-mac-tournament-2017-mens-quarterfinals-post-game-presser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobcats Scratch Their Way to Win, Defeat Rockets in Quarterfinals

Cleveland, OH: The third game from Quicken Loans Arena of the 2017 MAC Tournament Men’s Quarterfinal pitted second seeded Ohio University against the Rockets of Toledo, who claimed the seven seed in this year’s tournament.

Toledo won the earlier matchup in the year by a final of 79-76, led by senior forward Steve Taylor’s 25 point performance. The Bobcats came into the matchup with the top defense in the MAC, giving up 70 points a game but holding opponents to 41% shooting from the field.

The first half would be nothing but Toledo. Within the first 5 minutes, the Rockets were running like a well-oiled machine, going 4-5 from the field and 2-2 from deep to start. They would finish the half shooting 52% overall and 54% from downtown. Ohio, on the other hand, looked all out of sorts on the offensive end. Some poor shots mixed in with some atrocious fast break decisions left Ohio facing a 37-29 deficit at the half, shooting just 36% and a measly 15.4% from deep.

One bright spot for Ohio was Freshman big man Jason Carter’s put-back at the buzzer to make it a single digit game, giving the Bobcats some momentum heading into the second half.

Jonathon Williams, a senior, paced the Rockets offense with 11 points. For the Bobcats, it was none other than Jaaron Simmons, as the First Team All-MAC recipient had 12 first half points.

A quick 12-0 run out of the gate got the Ohio crowd back into it in a hurry, as the Bobcats defense locked in and finally looked formidable in their transition offense. At the first media timeout, the Bobcats would hold a 41-37 lead.

Toledo would struggle mightily to start the second half as the Rockets would go 0-for beyond the arc until sophomore guard Jaelen Sanford connected on a corner triple, making it 50-45 Bobcats at the 10-minute mark.

The most exciting part of the game (per usual) was the final minute. Nate Navigato, a sophomore for Toledo, nailed his second triple of the night to tie the game at 64 a piece with 40 seconds left.

Jonathan Williams would knock the ball away and finish a fast break layup following his steal to put the Rockets up two.

Jason Carter, who was electric for Ohio all second half, split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left. Steve Taylor of Toledo would then get fouled and miss the front end of his one-and-one.

It would be Kenny Kaminski of Ohio who would claim hero of the night, as he connected on a 15-footer from the right wing to put Ohio up 67-66. “It was big time for sure”, Kaminski said about the shot. Jonathan Williams would race down the court and put up a floater in traffic that would fall short. Jordan Lauf grabbed the rebound but his put-back attempt was rushed and well off the mark, as the Rockets would run out of the time in this game and in their season.

Jaaron Simmons would be the high-scoring man for Ohio, pouring in a 24 point performance. For Toledo, Jonathan Williams managed to put in 18 and got an unexpected 12-point performance from senior Jordan Lauf, however their efforts would not be enough.

Catch the Bobcats in action tomorrow night at The Q in the semi-finals!

https://soundcloud.com/user-770818477/2017-mens-mac-tournament-quarterfinals-post-game-presser-with-ohio