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.

 

Central Michigan Caps Magical Season with MAC Title

 

For the first time since 2013, the Central Michigan Chippewas women’s basketball team will be going to the NCAA Tournament.

Both the Chippewas and the Bulls expected themselves to be in this game after going 17-1 and 16-2 in conference play respectively.

Presley Hudson lit the Chippewas offensive spark early and often, pouring in 11 points going 3-3 from downtown. The Chippewas turned things up defensively as well, as they were able to frustrate Buffalo point guard Stephanie Reid who was 0-2 after the first quarter.

The game would turn on its head in the second quarter, however, as all good MAC Tournament Championship Games seem to. Down 34-23, Buffalo forward Mariah Suchan nearly dove out of bounds to save a loose ball to Reid, who found sharpshooter Cierra Dillard open for 3. This sparked a 17-5 run that put Buffalo up 40-39 via another Dillard 3 ball. Central would calm the storm a bit as Presley Hudson and gang would retake a 43-40 lead heading into halftime.

The second half absolutely belonged to Chippewa senior Tinara Moore. After a scoreless first half (with only 2 touches according to coach Sue Guevara in the post-game presser), Moore established a dominant presence down low. Hudson and Moore dissected the Bulls defense with the high pick and roll as Moore cruised to a 17-point second half performance and finished with 14 rebounds.

Central would extend the lead to as much as 14 before Buffalo made another run to cut it to 4. The Chippewas were able to make enough of their free throws in the closing seconds, however, as Central Michigan punched their ticket with a 96-91 victory.

As mentioned, Tinara Moore’s rebounding down low was too much for Buffalo as double teams failed to slow her down even the slightest. Guards Micaela Kelly and Presley Hudson poured in 26 points each as they frustrated Buffalo’s perimeter defense all day. All starters for Central Michigan finished in double digit scoring.

All-MAC Tournament honors from Central Michigan went to Tinara Moore, Micaela Kelly, and MAC Tournament MVP Reyna Frost who had 10 points and 11 boards in the championship win. Frost scored 14 in the quarterfinal win over Eastern Michigan and 18 in the semifinal win over Miami Ohio. “Thank my teammates and thank my coaches for giving me this award”, tournament MVP Frost said, “preparing me for these games”.

For Buffalo, Cierra Dillard was not her usual self from the field as she really struggled to be efficient. Dillard would finish with 26 points on 6-20 from the field and 5-15 from 3. Stephanie Reid, one of the leaders of this Buffalo team, suffered 2 injuries in the game, the latter of which ending her day.
In inadvertent elbow to her right wrist late in the 3rd forced the trainer to wrap it.

Reid would sit the beginning of the 4th and a sprained ankle at the 5-minute mark would end her day. She would finish with 15 points. A technical foul on Buffalo coach Felisha Legette-Jack with 8 minutes left for disagreeing with a call would prove crucial down the stretch.

Despite 17 turnovers for Central compared to just 5 for Buffalo, the Chippewas overcame this with their persistence on the glass (primarily because of Moore). Central outrebounded Buffalo 44-34 and those extra possessions down the stretch really took the life out of the Buffalo defense.

Buffalo, after a 27-5 regular season record, is still hoping to be a team to receive an at-large bid. “I don’t see how they can’t be”, said Central Michigan head coach Sue Guevara. “They’re one of the top 64 teams in this country”. Coach Guevara also pointed out the MAC Conference was 7th overall in RPI which should work in Buffalo’s favor.

Buffalo forward Summer Hemphill also believes that this Bulls team still has work to do. “The season’s definitely not over”, the freshman said. “We have a longer run to look forward to”.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 MAC Tournament Preview

The 2017 MAC Tournament is back, and perhaps better than ever. The venue will once again be Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Q has played host to the men’s tournament since 2000 and the women’s tournament since 2001.

This year, the Akron Zips emerged as men’s regular season champions in dominating fashion, going 14-4 in conference play and 24-7 overall. On the women’s side, Central Michigan put together an equally impressive campaign, sporting a 15-3 conference record while going 23-7 overall.

Despite the Zips dominance, MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher thinks the men’s side is anyone’s to take. “I think the men’s side is wide open”, Steinbrecher said. He feels that some other teams at the top of the standings have a shot at winning the title. Ohio University, who leads the conference in defensive efficiency, is one of those teams who could take out the Zips. Western Michigan, while not possessing the most impressive record, is undoubtedly the hottest team in the conference right now, riding an 8 game win streak.

On the women’s side, Dr. Steinbrecher made note of Kent State’s fantastic turnaround year. This season, they put together more conference wins than the previous three seasons combined. They have looked good this year and are poised to make a title run. The other big team to look out for is Central Michigan. As mentioned earlier, they finished first overall in the conference and have no plans of their season ending in Cleveland.

The tournament will be held at The Q from March 8th-11th and promises to be an eventful one. Make sure you find a way to go cheer on your favorite MAC team up in Cleveland this week, you won’t want to miss it!