Friday's roundup: CMU men, EMU women move to MAC finals

Associated Press

Cleveland — Chris Fowler scored 26 points as top-seeded Central Michigan advanced to the championship of the Mid-American Conference tournament with a 75-66 victory over Toledo in the semifinals Friday.

Central Michigan (23-7), seeking its first title since center Chris Kaman led them in 2003, will play Buffalo today for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Chippewas won both meetings in the regular season.

John Simons added 23 for Central Michigan, which opened the second half with a 13-3 run, withstood several spurts by Toledo and moved into its first final in 12 years.

It's been a remarkable turnaround for the Chippewas, who were the No. 11 seed last season but have been revived under third-year coach Keno Davis — the conference's coach of the year.

"So, to come out and play our best game of the year, our toughest on defense, and having the energy that we had is a credit to the players that we have that represent the maroon and gold," Davis said.

Justin Drummond scored 17 and J.D. Weatherspoon added 17 with 13 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Rockets (20-13).

Central Michigan led 33-26 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 9-2 run for a 42-28 advantage with under 18 minutes remaining.

Down by 17, Toledo got within 53-46 midway through the second half, but Simons hit a 3-pointer and Fowler scored consecutive baskets to put Central Michigan back in control.

Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon scored 17 apiece for Toledo (20-13), which was seeking to play in the conference title game for the second consecutive year. Last year, the Rockets lost in the final to Western Michigan.

Toledo's leading scorer, Julius Brown, finished with 13 points on 5-for-17 shooting. Brown entered the game averaging 16.4.

The Rockets managed to trim their deficit to seven, 53-46, with just under 10 minutes to play. But Simons hit three free throws to re-up the advantage to double digits.

Toledo trimmed its deficit to eight, 65-57, with under two minutes to play, but again, it was Simons who answered, this time with two free throws with 1:12 to play to extend CMU's lead back to 10, 67-57.

It was the third time this year Central Michigan has defeated Toledo, which hung in by outrebounding the Chippewas, 27-20.

More MAC men

Buffalo 68, Akron 59: Xavier Ford scored 17 points with 11 rebounds and second-seeded Buffalo (22-9) overcame a foul-plagued performance by MAC player of the year Justin Moss.

Buffalo has never been in the NCAA field, and they'll likely need more to get there from Moss, who scored just 5 points — 13 below his average — and sat out the final few minutes with four fouls.

Jake Kretzer scored 12 points to lead the Zips (21-14), who got within four in the final two minutes but couldn't get a defensive stop. Akron appeared in its 10th straight semifinal.

MAC women

Eastern Michigan 75, Ball State 65: Sixth-seeded Eastern Michigan (22-11) upset No. 2 Ball State behind 25 points, six rebounds and five assists from Cha Sweeney, and plays top-seeded Ohio at 1 today in the title game. The winner receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Janay Morton added 19 points for Eastern Michigan, which has won eight straight games, including four in the MAC tourney.

Division II women

Wayne State 75, Drury 61: Shareta Brown led four Wayne State players in double figures for the Warriors (23-5), who won their first-round game. Wayne State plays Lewis in the second round at 5 today.

Top 25

No. 1 Kentucky 64, Florida 49: Aaron Harrison and Karl-Anthony Towns each scored 13 and Kentucky shut down Florida in the second half of their Southeastern Conference quarterfinal.

Kentucky (32-0) faces Auburn in today's semifinals.

Friday's meeting between the schools followed the same hard-fought pattern as the two previous matchups this season, with the Gators initially taking charge before the Wildcats seized control in the second half with their size and depth.

The height advantage helped Kentucky (32-0) outrebound Florida, 39-33, including a 16-11 edge offensively that created extra chances and earned frequent trips to the free-throw line. Towns also had 12 boards.

No. 4 Villanova 63, Providence 61: Ryan Arcidiacono hit two free throws with 3.1 seconds left after a questionable foul call, and fourth-ranked Villanova escaped, returning to the Big East championship game for the first time since 1997.

No. 5 Arizona 70, UCLA 64: Brandon Ashley scored 24 and Arizona withstood a late rally to advance to the Pac-12 final against the winner between Oregon and No. 17 Utah.

The Wildcats (30-3) sputtered against UCLA's zone for long stretches before putting together a 15-0 run in the second half.

Normal Powell finished with 21 points and Tony Parker added 15 for the Bruins (20-13).

No. 9 Kansas 62, No. 16 Baylor 52: Wayne Selden Jr. scored 20 points and Kansas turned up its suffocating defense to beat Baylor in the Big 12 tournament. Perry Ellis returned from an injury to add 11 for the top-seeded Jayhawks (26-7).28

No. 11 Notre Dame 74, No. 2 Duke 64: Bonzie Colson came off the bench to lead the Irish with 17 points.

Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant added 15 and 13 points, respectively, for Notre Dame (28-5).

Jahlil Okafor scored 28 for Duke (29-4).

No. 13 Iowa State 67, No. 15 Oklahoma 65: Iowa State rallied from a double-digit deficit for the fourth straight game, then watched Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler miss a point-blank layup at the buzzer in a Big 12 tournament semifinal.

Georges Niang had 13 points, Jameel McKay added 12 and Monte Morris had 11 for the second-seeded Cyclones (24-8), who needed a buzzer-beater to beat Texas in the quarterfinals.

The defending champions will play No. 9 Kansas, the top seed, for the title tonight.

Buddy Hield had 16 points to lead the Sooners (22-10), who blew an early 11-point lead but still had plenty of chances down the stretch to win the game.

No. 19 North Carolina 71, No. 3 Virginia 67: Marcus Paige hit two free throws with 3.9 seconds left to help North Carolina (24-10) pull the upset and reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

No. 20 SMU 74, East Carolina 68: American Athletic Conference player of the year Nic Moore scored 20 points and SMU (25-6) held off East Carolina. Markus Kennedy added 15 points and six rebounds for top-seeded SMU (25-6), which plays Temple in today's semifinals.

No. 22 Arkansas 80, Tennessee 72: Rashad Madden made four late free throws and Arkansas held off Tennessee in a SEC quarterfinal.

Bobby Portis was 9 of 10 from the line en route to 26 points and Michael Qualls added 20 for the second-seeded Razorbacks (25-7), who will face the South Carolina-Georgia winner.

Josh Richardson had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Tennessee (16-16).

No. 24 Davidson 67, La Salle 66: Tyler Kalinoski beat the clock with a driving layup to cap a crazy comeback by Davidson in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. La Salle went scoreless in the final 4:45 and blew a nine-point lead. Davidson plays Virginia Commonwealth in today's semifinals.