In their first meeting this season, CMU lost the rebound battle by 6 and the turnover battle by 4. The 10 extra UB possessions allowed the Bulls to win by 6 in a game where neither team shot particularly well.
Today, CMU seemed determined to protect the ball, hit the glass and take the fight to UB. And they were successful, CMU won the turnover battle by 1, and only lost the rebound battle by 1, a net zero. However UB attempted four more shots than CMU, because UB had the ball last in each of the first 3 quarters as well as in overtime. In a game so evenly matched, the five final possessions of each period told the story of the game.
Almost Buzzer Beater Keeps CMU Alive After 1
After falling down 24-13, Tinara Moore and Da'Jourie Turner scored five points in 52 seconds to keep CMU within striking distance for their inevitable counterpunch. UB extended their lead to 8 at the end of the first, but Cassie Oursler's buzzer beater was a few tenths of a second too late, and the period ended 24-18.
Buzzer Beater Keeps UB Alive at the Half
Down 7 early in the 2nd, Aleah Swary scored 5 points off the bench to spark a 12-0 CMU run. At the end of the half, up 2 with 2 seconds remaining, UB's Courtney Wilkins beat the buzzer from long range to give UB a 1-point halftime lead.
CMU Stuffs Reid in the Third
In the third period, UB lead by as much as 5, but CMU wrestled control of the game away. A Cassie Breen 3, gave CMU a 3-point lead and Reyna Frost's block on Stephanie Reid at the buzzer maintained that margin.
CMU's Game Winner Falls Short at the End of Regulation
UB used a 14-7 run to take control of the game in the fourth quarter, but Jewel Cotton scored 6 in the fourth quarter including the final four points of regulation to send the game to overtime. CMU's only opportunity to score last in a period was for the win, but Da'Jourie Turner's winner fell flat off the front of the iron.
Reid Finally Gets It to Go in OT
Of course the biggest end of period play was the final play of the 2015-16 MAC season, Stephanie Reid had the ball at the end for the third consecutive period, in the 3rd, she was blocked, in the 4th, her runner bounced too hard off the backboard. In overtime, Reid got free off a screen, and this time, the runner banked perfectly for the game winner.
Not Everything is MACtion, but late round Tournament games in Cleveland often do attain the highest standard of Mid-American play. Something about the parity in our conference, the bright lights, the big crowd and the high stakes that make each game a battle. It brings out the best in everyone, but in a Tournament where only one team can win, it is always cruel. CMU played a balanced, powerful game, scoring 75% of their points the hard way, from the paint or the charity stripe. If you told me CMU would be so successful inside, I would assume the Chips would have won easy.
However, there are two principles of MAC Tournament Finals that remain true: 1) they aren't fair, and 2) every millisecond counts. No one knows these principles more than UB fans but today CMU learned those lessons the hard way.