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MAC TOURNAMENT Ohio turns back Akron at buzzer



Published: Fri, March 14, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Brandon Hunter's putback at the buzzer game the Bobcats a 79-77 win.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

With time running out in their first-round Mid-American tournament game against Akron, the Ohio Bobcats had a simple plan: Let Brandon Hunter win it.

It worked, but not exactly the way it was drawn up.

Hunter scored 20 points and put back Steve Esterkamp's missed jumper at the buzzer to lead the Bobcats (13-15) over Akron 79-77 Monday night.

"We were really trying to get the ball to Brandon on a post-up inside, and it really wasn't available, so Steve did what he should do," Ohio coach Tim O'Shea said.

"He took the ball, took a shot and Brandon put it in."

John Hollingsworth hit a 3-pointer for Akron (14-14) to tie it 77-77 with 20 seconds remaining. Esterkamp, who finished with 25 points, took a fade-away jumper that fell short and Hunter grabbed it and laid it in.

Akron led by as many as 11 in the second half and was up 69-62 with 4:50 remaining. Ohio responded with a 13-2 run to take a 75-71 lead with 1:11 to go.

The Zips hit two 3-pointers in 42 seconds to tie it, but left Ohio enough time for a game-winning shot.

O'Shea didn't want to return the favor.

"They were in a 1-3-1 zone and we wanted to make sure we took the last shot," O'Shea said.

"I didn't want to give them a chance to win the game."

Jeff Halbert had 19 points and nine rebounds for Ohio. Derrick Tarver led the Zips with 22 points. Darryl Peterson and Hollingsworth each scored 15.

Northern Illinois 81, Buffalo 64

P.J. Smith scored 22 points and Marcus Smallwood had 14 for Northern Illinois.

The Huskies took a two-point lead into halftime, but shot 64 percent in the second half and outscored the Bulls (5-23) 43-28. Mike Morrison scored 10 points and Smallwood had a game-high 12 rebounds.

Jason Bird had 13 points and Roderick Middleton made 12 for Buffalo.

Western Michigan 78, Toledo 64

Anthony Kann scored 18 points and had a game-high 14 rebounds as Western Michigan beat Toledo (13-16), advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1998. Toledo was eliminated in the first round for the first time since 1999.

Mike Williams scored 16 points for Western and Bobby Madison and Robby Collum each scored 11.

Toledo's Keith Triplett scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, but was whistled for a technical foul as the Rockets tried to come back late in the game. Nick Moore scored 13 for Toledo.

Bowling Green 90, Ball State 81

Ron Lewis scored 28 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead Bowling Green .

Kevin Netter had 19 and John Reimold (Kennedy Catholic) added 10 points for the Falcons.

Robert Owens led the Cardinals (13-17) with 28 points. Chris Williams had 24 points, and Matt McCollom added 10 for Ball State.

Marshall 83, Eastern Michigan 75

Ronald Blackshear had 30 points and Monty Wright scored 14 of his 18 down the stretch for Marshall.

Eastern Michigan led 55-48 with nine minutes remaining, but made just one field goal over the next seven minutes.

David Anderson added 11 points and 13 rebounds for Marshall.

Steve Pettyjohn led the Eagles (14-14) with 16 points.




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