Mid-American Conference Tournament - Second Round Recap
(8) Western Michigan 71 (12) Northern Illinois 54
The Eastern Michigan Eagles held the Northern Illinois Huskies to 55 points in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, but lost. The Western Michigan Broncos held Northern Illinois to 54 points in the second round of the MAC Tournament, but won. Quite simply, Western Michigan was able to score at a rate Eastern Michigan couldn't touch. The Broncos brought enough offense to supplement their defense, and that's why they moved into the third round of the MAC Tournament, where they'll take on fourth-seeded Kent State on Thursday.
Western Michigan did indeed put the clamps on Northern Illinois, limiting the last-place team in the MAC to 38-percent field goal shooting and preventing any one Husky from busting loose. No NIU player scored more than 11 points, and only two Huskies placed in double figures. Western Michigan displayed good defensive rotations and did not take off possessions. The steady pressure applied by the Broncos wore down the Huskies, who weren't able to mount a significant rally as they fell behind in the second half.
WMU was led by Mike Douglas, who did a little bit of everything in this contest. The guard for the Broncos scored 19 points, handed out 7 assists, grabbed 5 rebounds, and swiped 3 steals. Douglas's ability to affect so many different aspects of the competition took a lot of pressure off his teammates, who settled in and did their jobs at the defensive end of the floor. Northern Illinois didn't have any answers for Douglas, and that's why the Huskies' season has now come to an end.
The Toledo Rockets aren't dominating opponents, but then again, who said that margins of victory matter in the month of March? The Rockets beat Miami of Ohio by seven points in the first round, and in the second round, they topped the Central Michigan Chippewas by three.
Two guards dominated this game. Toledo's backcourt star was Rian Pearson, who not only scored 20 points for the Rockets, but pulled down 15 rebounds in a mighty effort that impressed everyone in attendance at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Pearson was all over the floor, and given the scant margin of victory for his team, his efforts - from tip to final horn - were absolutely necessary. For Central Michigan, guard Trey Zeigler was the main story. He scored 17 points, snagged 8 rebounds, and contributed 4 assists. What was the one difference between the two young men? Pearson was 6 for 7 at the free throw line, while Zeigler was 1 for 6 at the stripe, missing a number of free throws in the final minutes. Toledo advances to play third-seeded Ohio in the third round on Thursday.