MAC Tournament: Kent State, Western Michigan advance

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Final: Kent State 70, Buffalo 68

Top Performers:

Kent State

Chris Evans: 25 points, 15 rebounds

Randal Holt: 17 points


Tony Watson: 23 points, 11 rebounds

Javon McCrea: 20 points

The rise of Kent State’s third scorer: The Bulls started off the second half on a 6-0 run to increase their lead to 38-30. Kent State looked outmatched and they were desperate for a third scorer other than Evans and Darren Goodsen (12 points). Evans took over a boatload of the scoring throughout the entire game, scoring 25 points and going 10-of-17 from the field. But it was the emergence of Randal Holt in the second half that lifted Kent State to the victory.

Buffalo went 14:47 with the uncontested lead until Holt knocked down a three to tie the game at 47 with 12:13 left. It was the Evans and Holt show from there on out. The two combined for 16 of Kent State’s 23 points to close the game, Evans with 13.

Next up: The Golden Flashes will take on rival Akron in the Quicken Loans Arena Friday night at 6:30 p.m. Kent State won the last matchup in Akron, 68-64.

“We’re happy we won, but that’s not the highlight of our season,” Evans said on the last regular season against Akron. “We definitely want to beat them again tomorrow when it really counts and just definitely push forward.”


Final: Western Michigan 70, Eastern Michigan 55

Top Performers:

Western Michigan

Shayne Whittington: 18 points, 8 rebounds

Darius Paul: 14 points, 7 rebounds

Eastern Michigan

Daylen Harrison: 14 points, 4 rebounds

Da’Shonte Riley: 8 points, 10 rebounds

Notable stat: Eastern Michigan went 5-for-8 from three in the first half, but went 0-for-7 in the second.

Big men, big half: Western Michigan’s scoring was limited to mostly three players in the first half. Whittington, Paul and David Brown (12 points) combined for 31 of the team’s 36 first half points, as the Broncos led by four at half. Western Michigan’s attack opened up more in the second half, with Brandon Pokley (11 points) stepping it up from three and from the free throw line, as he finished 2-of-4 from beyond the arc and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe.

In the first half, it was the Whittington show, as the Second Team All-MAC selection attributed for half of his team’s points. The Broncos might not have won Thursday night’s game, though, had it not been for the second half performance by Paul. The conference’s Freshman of the Year ended the night with 14 points and seven rebounds, including seven points in the second half. His ability to add more of a scoring threat down low after a silent second by Whittington (5 points) ultimately sealed a spot in the semifinals for Western Michigan.

Next up: The Broncos will play Ohio Friday night at 9 p.m. following the Akron vs. Kent State game in the Quicken Loans Arena. The Bobcats won the last matchup on the road, 61-59.

“It’s been a while since we’ve played them. We’re both completely different teams,” Whittington said on the Broncos’ next opponent, Ohio. “We’ll go in, doing exactly what our coaches are telling us to do and we’ll try to get the win.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a tough, long game again, so we’ll see what happens.”