Posted: 12:49 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, 2013
By Matt Daley
Each week throughout the 2013-2014 women's basketball season, Hustle Belt will bestow weekly honors upon the MAC's most outstanding players from each division and from the freshman class. Here are this week's winners...
It was a fantastic week for Mid-American Conference women's basketball. The league went 12-5 in 17 games, and there were some fantastic performances across the board. We're now one month into the season, and this was the most difficult selection to date. So, with apologies to those who played great games last week but were not selected, here are today's honorees...
The Akron Zips restored order last week in their only game, as they won an 88-70 decision over George Mason at home. Typically, when we think of the Akron team, stars Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh come to mind. However, against George Mason, Carly Young was the force in the game. Young posted a double-double in 28 minutes of action by scoring 26 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. She sank nine of 15 shots, including three from long range, and made five of six free throws. Of her 12 rebounds, seven were on the offensive end. Young also contributed two assists plus a block and a steal.
Akron had lost four of their previous five games, and this win evened their record at 4-4. Their 18-point victory was also the biggest by any team against George Mason this season. The Zips' next game is at Cincinnati, and they follow it with two very winnable non-conference home games against Rochester College and Youngstown State.
Crystal Bradford's stat line in Central Michigan's only game last week was impressive, but she clinched this week's award on one shot. If you haven't seen it, prepare to be impressed...
When the Dayton Flyers played Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant last week, both teams came into the game with a combined four wins in 11 games, but their records are very deceiving, as both teams have played brutal early season schedules. Their combined seven losses had come to Iowa, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Marquette.
What ensued was an incredible game. The two teams traded the lead early in the game before CMU busted out to an 11 point lead. The Chippewas led by six at halftime, but Dayton flipped the score in the second half and led by as much as nine with 4:00 left in the game. Central Michigan kept chipping away, though. Bradford hit a three with 21 seconds left to cut the Dayton lead to three. UD missed two free throws, and CMU tied the game with another long-range shot. Finally, after a turnover with four seconds left, Bradford hit the buzzer-beater in the above video.
Bradford finished the game with 34 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. She sank 13 of 20 field goals overall and was 5-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc. She also had three assists, three steals and a block. Clearly, though, her most important contributions of the game were her two buckets with less than 25 seconds remaining in the game.
For CMU, Bradford's heroics will hopefully get the Chippewas back on track, but they have another tough task ahead in their next game. CMU must travel to South Dakota State to face a team that has already beaten Georgetown and won at mid-major powerhouse Wisconsin-Green Bay. They follow that with what should be an easy home game, but then close the month with a three-game road swing to Notre Dame, Purdue and a rematch with Dayton.
Ball State freshman Jill Morrison is the only two-time winner of any of these three awards thus far in the 2013-2014 season, but she earned the distinction last week. Ball State defeated Western Kentucky at home, 85-77, to improve to 3-4 on the season. WKU's only previous losses had been to Vanderbilt and #4 Louisville (by just 13 points).
Morrison scored 26 points in a 36-minute effort and continues to be deadly from long-range. She nailed six of eight three-pointers and coupled that with an 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line against the Hilltoppers. She also added four rebounds and two assists.
Morrison's 12 points-per-game average is in the MAC's top 20, and she leads the league in free-throw percentage (25-for-27, .926). She's also ninth in three-point field goal percentage (17-for-41, .415). Her 17 made three-pointers are sixth in the MAC.