AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament presented by Visit Myrtle Beach with an 80-61 win over the Miami RedHawks Monday night at Rhodes Arena.
With the victory, seventh-seeded Akron (17-15) advances to face top seed Buffalo in the first quarterfinal game on Thursday afternoon at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena. It is the 15th consecutive season in which the Zips have won at least one MAC Tournament game.
“I thought we played unselfishly tonight.” “Something we can build on going into Thursday against Buffalo,” Zips head coach John Groce said.’
Sophomore Loren Christen Jackson led UA with 25 points, hitting five-of-seven from three-point range and 8-of-12 overall from the floor while adding two rebounds and six assists.
Junior Daniel Utomi had 20 points, going four-of-eight from beyond the arc. Senior Jimond Ivey, playing in his final home game registered 14 points with six assists, two blocked shots and a steal.
Miami (15-17) the eighth seed finishes the season on a four-game losing streak and dropped five of its last six.
“Give Akron credit. They had it going early in the first half. We did not play the way we needed to tonight.” MU head coach Jack Owens said.
Sophomore Nike Sibande tied Cristen Jackson for game high honors with 25 points, adding 10 rebounds for his seconds double-double in the last three games. He was MU’s only player in double figures.
The game was decided in the first half as UA opened a 19-6 lead halfway through the period and never looked back. It grew to a 20-point lead on two occasions, the last being 37-17 at the 3:17 mark on a pair of free throws by Ivey.
Miami managed a 7-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from the top of the key by Sibande, who had 13 points in the first half. However, the Zips enjoyed a 39-24 advantage at intermission.
MU got within 12 points (39-27) on a pair of free throws by Darrian Ringo, who finished the game with five points in his final game for the Hawks.
However, UA kept the pressure on and opened a 20-point lead 53-31 at the 12:19 mark when Ivey hit one of two free throws. By the final horn, Akron enjoyed a 29-point bulge.
>> Overall, UA shot 52.9 percent from the field (27-of-51) and put up 32 shots from the arc converting on 17 of them. In the second half, the Zips hit 56 percent from the floor (14-of-25), including 10-of-17 from beyond the arc.
>> As for MU, it was a night to forget as the RedHawks shot just 24 percent from the field (14-of-56) and were 5-of-28 from 3-point rnge (17.9 percent.) The RedHawks did win the battle of the boards, 39-34, which included 17 offensive rebounds.
>> “I was really happy about our defense.” Groce said. “We made a commitment to defense for 40 minutes.”
>> For the Zips, they make the short trip north on Interstate 77 for the 15th consecutive year. They played the Bulls tough in the first game at the JAR, losing 76-70, and were in the second game in Western New York until UB pulled away in the final five minutes for a 77-64 victory.