C. Michigan 87, Bowling Green 70
CLEVELAND (AP)—Chris Kaman scored 25 points as top-seeded Central Michigan advanced to the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament for the first time since 1990 with an 87-70 win over Bowling Green on Thursday night.
Kaman, the MAC’s player of the year and top defensive player, added 14 rebounds and J.R. Wallace had 19 points for the Chippewas (22-6), who entered the game 0-3 at Gund Arena.
Central Michigan will play the winner of Thursday night’s late quarterfinal between fourth-seeded Northern Illinois and fifth-seeded Western Michigan.
Second-seeded Kent State, the two-time defending tournament champion, beat Marshall 79-57 in the quarterfinal opener, and will meet 11th-seeded Ohio in Friday’s first semifinal. The Bobcats advanced with a 65-55 win in overtime against Miami of Ohio.
The championship is Saturday night, with the winner receiving the MAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Chippewas showed why they’re the favorites, overpowering the ninth-seeded Falcons (13-16). Bowling Green’s roster was depleted by season-ending injuries, leaving coach Dan Dakich with six scholarship players, two football players and a walk-on.
The Falcons had no answer for Kaman, who averaged 22.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks during the regular season. The 7-foot junior center fouled out Bowling Green big men Cory Eynik and Kevin Netter.
Freshman Ronald Lewis had 30 points and John Reimold 20 for Bowling Green.
Central Michigan led by only five points at halftime, but Wallace made a pair of 3-pointers as the Chippewas opened the second half with an 18-5 run to take control.
With Bowling Green having to defend the perimeter, Kaman parked himself down low for easy baskets. On one possession, Kaman was in the lane for 10 seconds. While the officials ignored it, an enraged Dakich ripped off his sport coat, threw it under his chair and drew a technical foul.
Kaman was double- and triple-teamed nearly every time he touched the ball in the lane, and he didn’t score his first points until the 10:43 mark in the first half.
Once he got untracked offensively, though, he scored 11 points over the final 9:17, and Central Michigan took a 37-32 lead at halftime.
Bowling Green came out firing and made 6-of-7 3-pointers to open a 24-14 lead with 12:17 left. Reimold, the MAC’s second-leading 3-point shooter (41 percent), went 4-of-5 from behind the arc during the Falcons’ long-range spurt.