CLEVELAND, Ohio The Akron Zips advanced to the Championship Game of the 2016 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com as they defeated the Bowling Green Falcons 80-66 in the first semi-final game Friday evening at Quicken Loans Arena.
With the victory, Akron (26-7) will face the winner of the second semifinal later Friday evening between Ohio and Buffalo.
The Zips reached the title tilt for the first time since 2013 and the eighth time in the last ten seasons.
“It was a game that I had expected.” Zips head coach Keith Dambrot said. “They were playing with a lot of confidence and they believed (in) themselves. We made them play differently tonight. The biggest thing coming into this game was we had to match their toughness.”
Five Zips players . . .
Senior Jake Kretzer added 15, going three-of-four from three-point range. Fellow senior Reggie McAdams added 14, sophomore guard Antino Jackson had 12 with four assists, while fellow second year player Noah Robotham owned 11 points with three rebounds, an assist, and a steal
Bowling Green (16-18) entered Friday with tournament wins over Kent State and Central Michigan, beoming just the third double-digit seed to reach the semi-finals.
“Akron is a very good team.” BGSU head man Michael Huger said. “They played hard. With players like Johnson and their three-point shooters, it is very difficult to stop a team like that.” I am proud of our guys and how we competed tonight.”
UA used a 9-2 run midway through the first half to open an 11-point lead, 24-13, at the 9:02 mark on a driving layup by Robotham.
The Zips advantage fluctuated between nine and 11 points before reaching halftime with a six-point advantage 41-35.
UA shot 51 percent in the opening 20 minutes and held a narrow 14-13 rebounding edge. BGSU shot just 44 percent from the floor and was still within striking distance at six points.
At the start of the second half, the Falcons closed to within one point 53-52 with 13:22 remaining on a driving layup by Parker.
UA used a 12-2 tun to open a 65-54 lead with 8:13 remaining when Kretzer connected on a three from the left corner.
The Zips biggest lead was 16 in the closing moments before winning by 14 as they swept their three-games aganst the Falcons during the season.
Among key points to the game: UA turned the ball over just two times in the second half (and nine for the game). It shot 57.7 percent from the field (15-of-26) and 54.7 over the 40 minutes (29-of-53).