Lady Zips Lose a Nail-Biter in The Q

Cleveland, OH- Akron and Buffalo got the semi-final round rolling at The Q this afternoon. The 8th-seeded Buffalo Bulls looked to build off of their upset against the 1st-seeded Ohio Bobcats, while the 5th seeded Lady Zips of Akron tried to continue their momentum after knocking off the Toledo Rockets in an overtime thriller powered by senior Anita Brown.

 

The first quarter got off to a blazing start; both teams came out of the gate making three-pointers at a video game rate. Akron’s Hannah Plybon started off her afternoon draining 3 straight 3’s to give the Zips an early lead. Joanna Smith, the star of the Bulls upset over the Bobcats, answered Plybon’s hot streak with two 3’s of her own. With the help of a Stephanie Reid three, Buffalo ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run to give them a 22-19 lead going into the second. Akron and Buffalo combined for 9 three-pointers in the first quarter.

 

The Zip’s hot streak from behind the arc would not stop and sparked a 16-4 run to start off the second quarter, led by Lily Piper, that propelled Akron to a 35-26 lead with 5 minutes remaining in the first half. Stingy defense and Lily Piper’s shooting allowed Akron to crack open a double-digit lead over Buffalo, 44-32. Buffalo would cut the Akron lead down to 5 behind the dynamic duo of Smith and Reid’s combined 19 points. Piper would miss her first shot with 58 seconds left in the half; she finished the half with an incredible 18 points off the bench on 7-8 shooting and 3-3 from behind the arc. Piper would finish with 24 points, setting a new career high. The first two quarters of play saw tremendous shooting from both sides; the Zips held a 46-41 lead going into halftime.

 

Akron’s shooting hit a snag to start the third, the Zips missed their first 5 shots from behind the arc until Lily Piper ended the cold streak with a 6:50 left in the third. There was a huge shift in momentum with 7 minutes left in the opening quarter of the second half. Stephanie Reid, Buffalo’s leading scorer at the time, was called for a reach in foul and then an immediate technical to foul her out of the game. Reid finished the day with 13 points and 4 assists. Anita Brown struggled for most of the day and seemed to reach the peak of her frustrations late in the third quarter after she missed a breakaway layup and took her time getting back on defense. Diandra Gibson and Lily Piper continued to pick up the slack and carry the offensive load for Akron throughout the third quarter. Even without Reid, Buffalo rallied to tie the game at 56 with 3 minutes to go in the quarter. Defense and rebounding were the factors that kept the Bulls battling after the departure of their point guard. The third quarter ended with the Zips retaking control of the lead 62-59 heading into the final period of play.

 

Both squads amped up the intensity on the defensive end, not allowing either team’s star player to get comfortable. Heading into the middle of the fourth it became a game of benches and role players to wrestle victory away from the opponent. Stephanie Reid’s replacement Gabi Bade and the Bulls’ forward Cassie Oursler kept the Buffalo offense afloat for the opening minutes of the fourth taking the lead at 70-69, the Bull’s first lead since the second quarter. Momentum continued to ride with the Bulls when Joanna Smith dove headfirst into the Akron bench to save a ball, and subsequently hit a three pointer the next possession to give Buffalo a 73-69 advantage. Crafty ball movement on the offensive side of the ball combined with lock down defense gave Buffalo a strong hold on the game leading 77-72 with a minute and a half remaining. The Bulls continued to leave the door open for an Akron comeback by missing their free throws. Back to back threes by Anita Brown and Hannah Plybon cut the lead down to three with 48 seconds left, making the score 84-81. A Buffalo put back with 19 seconds left in the game seemed to be the dagger in the heart for Zip nation. Anita Brown was fouled on a three pointer with 7 seconds left, and after hitting all three free throws, gave the Zips a little hope down only two. A Buffalo offensive rebound and an and-1 conversion after two missed free throws all but sealed the game. The final score was 88-87 Buffalo. Buffalo advances to the MAC Championship against the winner of Central Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan.

Bulls Blaze Past RedHawks in Semifinals

Cleveland, OH- The eleventh seeded RedHawks, fresh off an upset over sixth seeded Ball State in the MAC Tournament, would look to deliver Buffalo a similar fate. However, as is the case with most underdogs, the outcome was not too favorable.

The RedHawks opened up the scoring with a strong finish underneath from senior forward Chris Bryant. First to draw blood for the Bulls was freshman forward Nick Perkins who knocked down a long range triple.

The Bulls used a 13-4 run to propel themselves to a quick 15-6 lead, capped by a big time slam from freshman Ikenna Smart.

The RedHawks would come as close as two in the first half, but Buffalo would take back control and stretch the lead out to 6, leading 37-31 at the half. Bulls junior forward Willie Conner led all scorers with just 9 points.

RedHawks senior guard Geovanie McKnight had his struggles in the first half, going just 1-6 from the field. However, McKnight did a nice job of getting to the line however, knocking down six free throws to give himself eight points in the half.

Willie Connor would continue his hot shooting, opening the second half with back to back triples along with another triple from sophomore guard Lamonte Bearden, pushing the Buffalo lead to twelve.

The Bulls would continue to knock down shots the entire second half, boosting themselves to a 69-56 lead with just under eight minutes to play.

Not much would go Miami’s way the rest of the night, as they suffered defeat at the hands of the Bulls by a final of

Buffalo, who was fifth in the MAC with 77.1 points per game, showed just how dominant on the offensive side of the ball they could be, knocking down eleven triples.

Miami battled hard throughout most of the game but lost their wheels at the end. The Bulls offense proved too much to handle for a stingy RedHawks defense that had only allowed 67.3 points per game during the regular season.

Willie Conner was the high scoring man for the Bulls, dropping six threes and finishing with a total of 25 points. Blake Hamilton also had a solid outing, pouring in points 11 and snatching 16 boards to give himself a double-double.

For Miami, it was Dion Wade leading the way with 16 points. Geovanie McKnight and Eric Washington also had nice contributions, scoring 13 and 12 points respectively.

Buffalo will advance to play Ohio University tomorrow night following the Akron and Bowling Green game.

 

Antonio Campbell and OU plow through Northern Illinois

Cleveland, OH

 

Today we kicked off the first day of the men’s MAC tournament at the Q, and the third game being covered was Ohio University Vs. Northern Illinois. OU came into this game being ranked number two in the MAC, with Northern Illinois coming in being ranked number 7.

 

OU started off aggressive with their first points from MAC player of the year Antonio Campbell’s layup, and a three from Treg Setty to get OU going. Travon Baker from NIU got the ball rolling with a quick 5, including a nice spot up three-pointer.

 

OU started off very hot in the first eight minutes while shooting fifty percent from beyond the ark, and making four threes. NIU shot seventy-five percent, and hit three from beyond the arc at that point, and kept a very interesting game to begin with. The threes continued for OU as they shot sixty percent from beyond the arc by the seven-minute mark in the first half and held a 26-22 lead.

 

Levi Bradley from NIU got hot towards the end of the half but Antonio Campbell continued to pour in shots, and grab rebounds throughout the first half. Another key player for OU was Jaaron Simmons who had seven points, and five assists with about five minutes left in the first. The game at this point was still tight, with OU having the slight edge on the rebounds, and the scoreboard.

 

The cold streak began for both teams with about five minutes left in the half, and they did not make many shots from that point until the half. OU held on to a lead that they developed midway through the half, and finished off the half with a 36-27 lead.

 

Going hot into the second half was Kenny Kaminsky with his fourth three and also was Antonio Campbell with his first bucket. Within three minutes OU took off and brought the lead up too seventeen points and really got the game going for them. NIU did not have many answers at that point, and had a very difficult time scoring.

 

With about fourteen minutes left in the second half, Antonio Campbell continued to rattle in buckets, with twenty-one points and four boards at that point. NIU scored six points in about five minutes to OU’s twenty-one, and had three players in the double digits. Kenny Kaminski had his fifth three-pointer with about fifteen minutes left in the half.

 

About midway through the half the rout was continued with a score of 61-43, and OU continued to pour in buckets. NIU was never able to catch a real rhythm, and had absolutely no answers on the defensive side of the ball.

 

There was a late game scrum out of frustration from the NIU players that forced a double technical that canceled out, but nothing too serious. At this point OU had the game about wrapped up with a 71-56 lead with three minutes remaining in the game.

 

OU ended the game shooting an unbelievably high forty-nine percent from deep and made fourteen of twenty-nine. Five players scored in the double digits, including leading scorer Campbell with twenty-one points and eight rebounds. OU won the game seventy-nine to sixty-two, and will move on to the semi-finals.

Freshman Lillard lift Bowling Green Past Central Michigan

Cleveland, Oh-WHAT A GAME!

The Bowling Green Falcons upset the Central Michigan Chippewas 62-59. Bowling Green trialed for most of the game but with some clutch shooting from freshman Antwon Lillard, the Falcons were able to come out with the upset.

It was back and forth the entire game, Central held the lead for most of it, but the Falcons stayed around and made the plays at the end of the game to get the win. After Lillard’s three, Central Michigan then turned the ball over on their next possession. Ismail Ali then made two free throws to put The Falcons up by three. On the ensuing inbound, Bowling Green Stole the ball and finalized the win on a fantastic game.

Up next for the Falcons is Akron, as they will play the Zips tomorrow at 6:30.

Heading into halftime Central Michigan held a 31-25 lead over the Falcons of Bowling Green. The pace was slow. Central Michigan had been in control of the pace. When they were in the half-court offense they use a lot of the shot clock and that had dictated the pace at that time.

Central Michigan was led in scoring by Chris Fowler who has 9 point on 4 of 8 shooting. Rayshawn Simmons had another 6 points for Central Michigan. John Simons had 9 rebounds for Central. As they held the rebounding advantage 21 to 20.

For Bowling Green Antwon Lillard led all scorers with 11 points. The Falcons didn’t get much production out of anyone else. The next highest scorer was Wes Alcegaire with 4 points.

Central Michigan shot just over 41% from the field and only 3 of 13 from deep. While Bowling Green was shooting just under 35% from the field and had only connected on 2 of 7 from the three point arc.

The Second Half was a different story. Central Michigan lead for most of the half but the Falcons stayed around. Central Michigan was led by Chris Fowler and Bryalon Rayson. Fowler ended with 16 points and Rayson ended with 13. Overall Central shot 41% and went 4 of 20 from distance. But they struggled at the free throw line. Only hitting 13 of 24.

The big story for Bowling Green was Antwon Lillard, a true freshman making his second career start. He ended with 26 points and the game winner. A three with 13 seconds remaining to but the Falcons ahead 60-59. Demajeo Wiggins added another 10 points for the Falcons. The Falcons finished by shooting 50% from the floor and 5 of 13 from three. They faired a bit better at the free throw line. Hitting 11 of 18 from there.

Big Dog Muscles Zips Past Eagles

Cleveland, OH- The number one seed and heavily favored Akron Zips marched into Cleveland expecting a big win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles. However, Eastern Michigan showed that they meant business and would not be trounced on.

Eastern Michigan would get the first points of the day with an easy layup underneath from James Thompson. Akron would quickly follow with a three from senior forward Reggie McAdams and the frantic pace of MAC Tournament basketball was quickly underway.

The Zips offense seemingly could not get anything going, forcing them to be stuck at just three points heading into the first media timeout, trailing 9-3 with fifteen minutes to go in the first half.

The Eagles continued to control the pace throughout the mid-point of the first half, however the Zips would pick up some much needed momentum following a monster block from Isaiah Johnson, the MAC’s sixth man of the year recipient, on Tim Bond’s driving layup.

The Zips would struggle to find the mark from downtown, something new to the Zips who had the third most three-point field goal attempts in the NCAA during the year. The Zips, only going 2-12 from the field at the eight-minute mark, were well short of their 39.4 percent mark in the regular season.

Akron point guard Noah Robotham would help boost that stat, nailing a triple to cut the Eagles lead to just one at 18-17.

The Zips would grab the lead once again for the first time since the very start of the game following a Johnson finish underneath, giving the Zips a 24-23 lead.

Akron senior forward Jake Kretzer would go down with an apparent chest injury with one minute to go in the half, but would bounce back up and be ok. Kretzer has struggled with a heart condition during his time with the Zips.

Towards the end of the half, Eastern Michigan’s Raven Lee caught Akron guard Josh Williams with an elbow to the face, rendering a flagrant one foul against him. The Zips entered the half leading 35-32, shooting just 36% from the floor and 27% from downtown.

Eagle’s guard Willie Mangum was finally able to get things going and went on his own little 5-0 run to start the half, giving the Eagles a 37-35 edge.

The Eagles would continue to haunt the Zips with their zone defense, forcing Akron to take deep contested threes and make poor post entry passes. An outraged Keith Dambrot, Akron’s head coach, was forced to call a timeout with thirteen minutes to go to halt the 15-3 run.

Isaiah Johnson got the Zips back on track, finishing nicely over two defenders on back to back possessions, cutting into the Eagles lead.

An electric 9-0 run from the Zips, capped off by a Reggie McAdams triple cut the lead to three and had the Akron faithful on their feet and loud for the first time all game.

A huge three from Robotham finally gave the Zips the advantage at 62-61 with fifty seconds to play. A pair of free throws from the Eagles and a Johnson layup for Akron gave the Zips a one-point advantage with just sixteen seconds to play.

A missed driving layup from Raven Lee led to a fast break for the Zips and a missed layup from Josh Williams. However, after getting the rebound, Tim Bond of the Eagles called a timeout. The Eagles had no timeouts remaining, resulting in a technical foul.

Robotham sunk his free throw, and a half court heave from Willie Mangum sailed wide, giving the Zips a 65-63 win.

“Basically the whole game I challenged their adversity,” coach Dambrot said. “We don’t want to shoot any shot not on the break without Big Dog (Isaiah Johnson) touching it.”

“We’ve been in those games before,” Reggie McAdams said. “it shows tremendous character by our teammates.”

Leading the way for the Zips were McAdams with 20 points, along with Johnson who poured in 19. Raven Lee and James Thompson led the way for the Eagles with 23 and 15 points respectively.

The Zips will advance to the semifinals, where they were eliminated last year, and play the winner of Central Michigan and Bowling Green on Friday.