CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Akron Zips came back from a pair of 12-point deficits in the second half to defeat the Eastern Michigan Eagles 65-63 Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 2016 MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com at Quicken Loans Arena.
Akron (25-7), the regular season MAC Champion and No. 1 seed, advances to the semi-finals Friday evening (6:30 p.m. ET) against No. 12 seed Bowling Green. The Falcons pulled off their second straight upset by edging Central Michigan 62-59 in Thursday's second contest.
“It was a game that I had expected.” Zips head coach Keith Dambrot said. “Eastern Michigan is . . .
Senior forward Reggie McAdams led UA with 20 points while junior Isiah Johnson added 19 coming off the bench along with 16 rebounds.
Eastern Michigan (18-15) entered tournament play as an eight seed and defeated Toledo at home on Monday night, The Eagles had won three straight wins and four of five before losing to Akron.
Give credit to Akron.” EMU head man Rob Murphy said. “They made some great plays in the last four minutes. I thought for about 38 minutes we played a really good basketball game. However it came down to the final four minutes.”
Junior Raven Lee led all scorers in the contest with 23 points. Freshman James Thompson added 15 and 12 rebounds, while Willie Mangum added 10 with six boards and an assist.
The visitors from Ypsilanti opened at 15-9 lead midway through the first half on a layup by Thompson.
UA responded with an 11-5 spurt to tie the game 20-20 when freshman Josh Williams made two of three free throws after being fouled while shooting a trey.
Both teams exchanged the lead before the Zips converted a four-point play with 1:00 remaining in the first half. McAdams connected on a three from the left cornerand and added a free throw. Josh Williams connected on one of two charity tosses to give UA a 35-32 halftime advantage.
When the second hald began, EMU scored seven of the perod's first eight points to take a 39-36 lead at the 16:48 mark. The Eagles would hold the lead for a majority of the second 20 minutes.Their biggest margin was 12 on two occasions, the last being 54-42 at the 9:46 mark on a thunderous slam by Thompson.
The Zips made their ‘big push’ of the contest when they put together a 9-0 run to close the deficit to three, 56-53, on a McAdams three from the left arc.EMU, however, pushed the lead back out to five 58-53 on a driving layup by Lee at the 5:29 mark.
The Eagles lead fluctuated between one and four points until the Zips took the lead for the first time since the 18:07 mark of the first half when sophomore guard Noah Robotham connected on a trey from the top of the key.
UA grabbed the lead for good on a Johnson layup off the glass to make the score 64-63 with 26 seconds remaining.
On the Eagles last possession, Tim Bond’s shot missed everything. Johnson got the rebound out to Williams who was intentionally fouled. Robotham made a final free throw with 0.2 seconds remaining and securee the Zips victory.
For the second consecutive game,. UA had trouble shooting from beyond the arc. The Zips went 9-of-33 for the contest and shot just 10-of-32 from the field in the second half.
When asked about his battle against MAC Freshman of the Year James Thompson IV, Johnson said, “Thompson’s a really tough player -- really aggressive, athletic, big guy, so we went at at him. It was a battle of wills, honestly.”