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Mid-American First Round Recap

March 11, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-American Conference First Round Recap

Preview by Jeremy Speer

Every top-seeded home team was victorious in the play-in round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Monday.

Toledo, Buffalo, Ball State, Bowling Green and Marshall all will travel to Cleveland Thursday for the quarterfinals of the tournament. Western Michigan, Kent State and Miami all received first round byes into the quarterfinals.

No. 4 Toledo 91, No. 13 Central Michigan 88
The Chippewas almost made good on a disappointing season with an upset at Toledo.

With as many as a 13-point lead in the first half, it took a strong second half effort for the Rockets to put the feisty Chippewas away.

Sophomore Sammy Villegas had a career-high 28 points and put the Rockets up three with six seconds left.

CMU senior guard T.J. Meerman dribbled the ball up court and had a good look from three-point range, but it rimmed out allowing Toledo to slip into Cleveland.

It was a rough game for Meerman, who missed the front end of a one-and-one late in the game that would have tied the score. The Chippewas could have taken a lead were Meerman to hit the foul shots.

Central senior center Gerrit Brigitha closed out his career in style, hitting for a career-high 33 points. He averaged 29 points in three contests against Toledo this season.

Kevin Nelson scored 16 points on four three-pointers for CMU while Sefton Barrett added 10 points.

Keith Triplett, a likely All-MAC selection, netted 17 points for the Rockets while freshman Florentino Valencia contributed a clutch 14 points.

No. 5 Buffalo 90, No. 12 Northern Illinois 73
The MAC’s hottest team will now roll into Cleveland after a convincing victory against Northern Illinois.

The win marked Buffalo’s first ever in the MAC Tournament. It also was also its eighth straight victory.

Yassin Idhibi, fresh off being named to the MAC’s All-Freshman team, led the charge with 23 points and eight rebounds.

Junior guard Turner Battle chipped in 16 points for the Bulls, who had five players hit double figures, including Calvin Cage (15), Jason Bird (13) and Mark Bortz (10).

Buffalo used 16 Huskies turnovers to convert into 22 points.

Northern Illinois was led by its strong senior duo of Perry Smith and Marcus Smallwood. Smith netted 28 points while Smallwood added 15 points.

No. 6 Ball State 76, No. 11 Akron 72
The Cardinals bounced back from a regular season-ending loss to Central Michigan with a hard fought victory against Akron.

A 7-0 Cardinals run spurred by three-pointers from Terrance Chapman and Matt McCollom broke a late-game tie and put Ball State ahead for good.

Robert Owens led the Cardinals with 20 points and nine rebounds while Dennis Trammell added 18 points and Chapman 15.

Senior Derrick Tarver, the MAC’s leading scorer, led the Zips with 25 points. Dru Joyce III and Rick McFadden added 15 and 14 points, respectively.

The game featured 11 lead changes.

No. 7 Bowling Green 56, No. 10 Ohio 54
Sophomore Ron Lewis was the hero as Bowling Green survived a late charge from the Bobcats.

Up two with three seconds left, Ohio’s Jaivon Harris missed a three-pointer. Thomas Stephens raced to pick up the rebound and his shot attempt was blocked by Lewis.

Ohio’s Jeff Halbert quickly picked up the loose ball and hoisted a shot at the buzzer, which was again blocked by Lewis.

Lewis also was important on the offensive end. He scored 19 points, all of which came in the second half. A 14-3 run late in the game gave Bowling Green the lead for good.

Junior John Reimold and senior Kevin Netter each added 11 points for the Falcons.

Terren Harbut led Ohio with 24 points while Stephens added 14 points.

No. 8 Marshall 78, No. 9 Eastern Michigan 59
The Thundering Herd used its homecourt advantage to its favor in a blowout victory against Eastern Michigan.

Marshall shot 63 percent from the field in the first half to bust open an insurmountable lead. The Eagles would not get closer than nine points in the second half.

The Eagles have not won a game in the MAC Tournament in six seasons. The last time time they did, the Eagles advanced to the NCAA Tournament behind Earl Boykins.

Senior Marvin Black collected 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Herd, while guard A.W. Hamilton also scored 16 points.

Junior JaQuan Hart led the Eagles with 19 points while John Bowler had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

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