Heartbreak in Cleveland
The Akron Zips dominated almost the entire game, but couldn’t finish the job. Akron’s season ends in the quarterfinals of the MAC tournament to Eastern Michigan, 67-58.
Post game Coach Groce took to the microphone to talk about the toughness his players showed. Akron started the game as well as they had all season, “I think this is maybe as good as we’ve played all year” Groce said addressing the media.
Coach Groce also elaborated on the two games the team endured this week. He commented saying “Obviously two different games, one where we’re down by 23 and come back and win, and this one we’re up 19 and not quite able to finish them off”.
Leading the way for the Zips was sophomore forward, Daniel Utomi who put in a 14 point effort. Malcolm Duvivier, playing in his final collegiate game, and Eric Parrish both chipped in 13 points, respectfully.
The Zips started off hot and got out to a 10-0 start. They showed no signs of being affected by Eastern Michigan’s 2-3 zone. Akron got the ball where they wanted, when they wanted and hit threes in the process.
Eastern Michigan was held to 32% shooting from the field in the first half, as junior forward, James Thompson IV was in foul trouble and only had 2 points entering halftime. The Zips continued to pull away and lead 31-22.
The second half was much more of the same in the beginning. The Zips were leading by 19 points with a little over 5 minutes left remaining in the game, but that is when things began to fall apart.
The game was chippy from start to finish including technical fouls being called on Coach Groce, James Thompson IV, and Tim Bond. The biggest technical was on Jimond Ivey, who received it by slamming the ball in front of the ref.
Ivey received the technical at the 8 minute mark in the second half, as the Zips lead by 11. From that point on, the Eagles went on a 22-5 run to end the game, and in the process finishing the Zips season.
The Eagles were paced by Elijah Minnie. The third team all-MAC selection had 21 points and 3 blocks. Eastern Michigan also got a combined 30 points from Tim Bond and Paul Jackson.
Eastern Michigan will move onto the semi-finals against Toledo, while Akron will be looking forward to the off-season.
Akron finishes the season 14-18 on the season, and 6-12 in conference play. The record will not show the growth the team has shown over the last month.
So ends the first season in the Coach Groce era. Akron will look to bounce back with a mostly returning roster. The season did not reach the same success as years prior, but it does give an insight into a young team with a bright future.