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Mid-American Notebook

February 3, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-American Conference Notebook

by Jeremy Speer

The top teams in the Mid-American Conference are beginning to surface, as a pair of two-team races is developing. Western Michigan maintains a one-game lead over Toledo in the West Division while Kent State enjoys a game and half advantage over Miami in the East Division.

As those four teams went undefeated in the past week, the rest of the conference’s teams have fallen to the middle of the pack.

It’s all in the family for Western’s Rost

A member of the First Family of Western Michigan basketball, Levi Rost burst onto the scene in a pair of wins against Ohio and Eastern Michigan. While he averaged 21 points in the two victories, he may not be the best Bronco in his family. His sister, Casey, is the MAC’s leading women’s scorer on Western’s women’s team, which also sits in the first place.

During this week, Levi got the better of his sister. While Casey averaged just 15.5 points in a win and a loss, Levi scored a career-high 26 points in the Broncos 96-73 defeat of Ohio. He then followed it up with a game-high 16 points in a 20-point victory against Eastern Michigan.

Levi Rost is a junior college transfer in his first year of Division I basketball. He starred the previous two seasons at Lansing Community College. His contributions continue to improve a Western squad loaded with weapons.

Bulls, Turner Battle back

Buffalo has been the streakiest team in the MAC this season, and again finds itself in the midst of a hot streak, led by its skilled guard, Turner Battle. The Bulls opened the season on a three-game losing skid before going on a December stretch of five consecutive victories. As January and the onset of conference play began, Buffalo again began to struggle, dropping six straight games. Now the Bulls have caught fire once again. With a pair of victories against talented Ball State and Akron squads, the Bulls have now won three consecutive games. They are 4-5 in the MAC, and sit tied for third place in the MAC Eastern division.

Battle, a preseason All-MAC selection has picked up his game, averaging 23 points in the past two games. The Bulls have gone the way Battle has. Battle has been the team’s leading scorer in six of the eight UB victories, but has been the leading scorer in just one of the team’s nine losses.

He has received solid contributions from players like Mark Bortz (20 points and 10 rebounds vs. Akron), Mario Jordan (15 points and nine rebounds vs. Ball State) and Jason Bird (three consecutive three-pointers vs. Ball State). With Battle heating up, the Bulls hope they can ride their hot streak all the way to the top of the MAC East.

Central’s struggles persist

This season has been nothing short of a nightmare for Central Michigan. While the team’s 0-9 MAC start is tough enough to swallow, it is only the base of the problems the team has endured.

Prior to the team’s season-opening trip to the Maui Invitational, walk-on forward Brent Edwards passed away in a automobile accident. Tragedy again struck for the Chippewas this week, as Gemma Comstock, wife of assistant coach Marc Comstock, passed away from melanoma, a form of skin cancer. The team was notified of Gemma Comstock’s death Thursday, making a Saturday loss to Ohio a bit more understandable. CMU looks for its first conference win this week with three home games against Western Michigan, Kent State and Northern Illinois.

BG Guards light it up

In the season’s most impressive backcourt performance, Bowling Green guards Ron Lewis and John Reimold combined for 59 points and 10 three-pointers in an 88-73 victory against Marshall Saturday. Lewis, a sophomore, connected for 31 points on four triples, while Reimold, a junior, had 28 points on six treys. The Falcons improved to 5-4 in the conference and will look to gain ground with road games against Miami and Western Michigan this week.

Miami grinds one out

They are last in the MAC in total offense, but first in the conference in total defense.

A slow-down, fundamental tempo is something Miami coach Charlie Coles has preached for years, and it worked to perfection in a 51-48 overtime victory against Marshall. After allowing the Herd to creep back into the contest and send it into overtime, the RedHawks held Marshall down in the overtime period, allowing for the victory. A Danny Horace putback put Miami up 51-48, and strong defense preserved it.

The RedHawks main scoring option, Juby Johnson, netted 17 points in the win.

Despite improving to 6-2 in the MAC East, the RedHawks remain behind the 8-1 Kent State Golden Flashes, who knocked off Akron Saturday, holding MAC leading scorer Derrick Tarver to 14 points.

Rockets blast off

Toledo’s formula for victory is simple – when Keith Triplett plays well, the team wins.

And as evidenced by UT’s 9-2 MAC mark, Triplett is playing well. He is second in the MAC in scoring at 20 points a game and eclipsed his average in recent victories against Ball State and Northern Illinois.

Toledo also has received consistent contributions from sophomore Sammy Villegas and freshmen Florentino Valencia and Justin Ingram, giving the Rockets many versatile options.

UT looks to gain ground on Western with a key showdown at Miami Saturday.


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