CLEVELAND – Shelbie Justice scored 21 points as fifth-seeded Ball State upset top-seed and 25th-ranked Bowling Green 73-55 in the Mid-American Conference tournament on Friday.
Ball State (18-15) has won seven straight after winning four games in five days to reach today’s championship game for the first time since 2009. The Cardinals will face third-seeded Akron for the automatic NCAA bid.
Joining Justice in double figures were Brandy Woody with 16 points, Brittany Carter 13 and Katie Murphy and Nathalie Fontaine 10 each. Ball State, which hit 11 of 24 3-point attempts, shot 47.9 percent overall to Bowling Green’s 33.3 percent.
The Falcons (27-4), who came in on a 13-game winning streak and a bye into the semifinals, were led by Erica Donovan with 17 points and Jillian Halfhill with 14.
Ball State, up 33-27 at halftime, never trailed in the second half. The Cardinals scored the last 10 points of the game as the Falcons went scoreless for the final 2:24.
No. 22 MIDDLE TENNESSEE 64, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL 57: In El Paso, Texas, Ebony Rowe scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Olivia Jones had a double-double as the Blue Raiders advanced to the Conference USA championship game.
Jones had 12 points and 11 rebounds for top-seeded Middle Tennessee, which faces second-seeded Southern Mississippi for the championship today.
Rowe had five points as Middle Tennessee scored the last six points of the first half for a 32-25 lead. Her basket 4 minutes into the second half made it 40-30. The Golden Panthers (15-18), playing their fourth game in four days, hung around until China Dow and Rowe scored four points each in an 8-0 burst that made it 56-43 with 5:37 left.
FIU, despite shooting 29 percent, was still within striking distance until Middle Tennessee made 6 of 8 free throws in the last minute.
Jerica Coley had 19 points and 12 rebounds for FIU.