Zips lose heartbreaker to Buffalo, 64-61

The University of Akron men’s basketball team fell to the Buffalo Bulls, 64-61, on Saturday night in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game. The Zips are now unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Akron crowd was in the majority at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and they were rowdy from the beginning, even starting chants 27 minutes before tip-off. A tip-off which Zips’ forward Kwan Cheatham Jr. won. Cheatham Jr. missed the game’s first shot, and Buffalo’s Lamonte Bearden came down and finished a transition layup to start the MAC Championship Game scoring. Akron would get on the board two possessions later, with a pair of Aaron Jackson free throws.

The Zips got off to a slow start offensively, missing their first five field goals. In fact, each starter missed one shot before Antino Jackson connected from deep 3:05 into the half to give the Zips their first made shot from the field and tie the game at five.

Buffalo went on to score the next seven points, finished by a Willie Conner 3-pointer. Akron came back to end the run with a very unusual possession. Jake Kretzer missed from deep, and McAdams attempted to tip it in. The attempt failed, but Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson was on the other side for an easy tip-in of his own. Akron’s struggles continued, however, and they trailed Buffalo 14-7 after the second TV Timeout. At this point in the game the Zips were just 1-8 on 3-point attempts and were outrebounded 10-5.

Buffalo’s shots were falling early on. CJ Massinburg came out with a trey to extend the lead, but Cheatham Jr. came right back with one of his own. On the very next possession Massinburg made another contested 3-pointer, then followed it up with a pair of free throws. The Zips fought back hard, with back-to-back-to-back baskets. First, Johnson found Jimond Ivey for a wide open layup, and Johnson followed it up by finding his own way to the hoop. Finally, after a Noah Robotham steal, Antino Jackson buried a transition 3-pointer to cut the Buffalo lead to 24-17.

After a Conner layup, Akron’s leading scorer, Isaiah Johnson, came back with two straight post baskets. Robotham came back with a layup of his own to bring the Buffalo lead down to three. The Akron crowd got right back into the game, back to the deafening levels from the opening tip.

However, the Zips’ outside shooting continued to struggle, allowing Buffalo to push the lead back to six with another Massinburg 3-pointer. Johnson came right back to cut the lead to four, and force Buffalo coach Nate Oats to use a timeout and quiet the Akron faithful. With 3:13 left in the half, the Zips were just 3-13 from deep.

Several possessions later Cheatham Jr. came up with a huge block down low, with was followed up by a Josh Williams 3-pointer to cut the lead to one. It was the closest the game had been since the 3:05 mark of the first half. Massinburg followed with his fifth field goal, but Cheatham Jr. shot right back with a slam dunk that sent the Zips fans into a frenzy. After a pair of Buffalo free throws, Robotham missed a 3-pointer, but quickly stole the ball from Massinburg. Robotham then found Williams for a wide open 3-pointer with just ten seconds left, and the game went into halftime tied at 33.

Coach Keith Dambrot’s team ended the half on an impressive 23-11 run. In the half, Akron made just five out of 17 shots from deep. In contrast, Buffalo made five out of 12 treys. On the other hand, the Zips made eight out of 14 shots inside the 3-point arc, while the Bulls made only six of 18. Buffalo also dominated Akron on the boards, outrebounding them 23-14 in the first half.

CJ Massinburg led all players after one half with 15 points and three 3-pointers. Also for Buffalo, Willie Conner had seven points and Lamonte Bearden finished with four points, and he led the team with six rebounds and three assists. Johnson led the Zips in four major categories with ten points, four rebounds, three assists, and five made field goals. Johnson only missed one shot in the first half. Also, Williams and Antino Jackson tallied six points, Cheatham Jr. had five points with one block, and Robotham had two points, two assists, and a game-high four steals.

Akron struggled to score early once again, as Buffalo went on a 10-2 run to give them a 43-35 lead. That forced Coach Dambrot to put Johnson back in the game with 15:21 left. Things didn’t change much early though, as Johnson missed his first shot, then Blake Hamilton converted a 3-point play. On the next Akron possession, Johnson committed a turnover and then a foul. CJ Massinburg then came right back with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to push the Buffalo lead to 14. Josh Williams ended the 14-0 run with his third 3-pointer of the ball game.

After a big defensive stop, Kretzer came back with a heavily contested 3-pointer to cut the lead to single digits. On the ensuing Buffalo possession the Zips showed their poor rebounding once again by allowing three straight offensive rebounds. They did, however, keep the Bulls from scoring on the trip. Several possession later Bulls’ big man Nick Perkins stepped out and hit a 3-pointer, but McAdams responded with a deep ball of his own, his first of the game.

On the next Bulls possession it looked like Conner had made another 3-pointer. But after review it showed that it was after the shot clock expired. Kretzer came back with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five. After a Buffalo basket the Zips kept the shooting parade going as McAdams made another trey. McAdams came right back on the next trip and buried his third 3-pointer of the half to make the score 54-53, and put the Akron crowd on their feet as Buffalo used a timeout. Seven minutes and forty seconds remained in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game.

The Zips came right back on the offensive, as Cheatham Jr. found Johnson in the post, and he finessed his way to two points. The Zips had their first lead of the ball game. Bearden, Buffalo’s star sophomore guard, scored several possessions later to retake the lead by one. After a Cheatham Jr. turnover Bearden came right back with a transition layup that pushed the lead to three. Akron called a timeout with 3:39 remaining.

Johnson was stopped after the timeout, but senior leader Kretzer took a charge to give Akron the ball, and Antino Jackson hit a 3-pointer to tie it on the ensuing possession. Following a big Johnson block, Jackson made an NBA distance 3-pointer to give Akron their biggest lead of the game. After Buffalo attempted the same but missed, the Bulls got their own rebound once again. Blake Hamilton made the Zips pay with a deep shot to tie the game right back at 61 with 1:36 left.

After a Buffalo timeout, the Zips lost the ball in a jump ball, with possession going to Buffalo with 1:12 left. That’s when Antino Jackson stepped up big by drawing a charging foul. However, Johnson couldn’t convert, and Buffalo took over. The Bulls advanced the ball to half court and called a timeout with 29.1 seconds on the game clock and 17 seconds to shoot.

The Bulls went to Bearden, and he was fouled by Jackson, but luckily they had fouls to give. It did, however, erase the shot clock. Then with 1.8 seconds left, junior Blake Hamilton stuck the dagger into the Zips season with a 3-pointer on an assist from Perkins. After video review, the officials put .2 seconds on the clock, giving Akron two full seconds to shoot.

McAdams threw the ball inbounds, but his three-quarter court pass was intercepted by Hamilton, and the Buffalo celebration was underway.

CJ Massinburg led all players with 18 points. Massinburg made four of six 3-pointers, and he also grabbed seven rebounds and forced two steals. Blake Hamilton contributed a double-double for Buffalo with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and he made three 3-pointers. Finally, Lamonte Bearden scored 11 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out six assists.

Akron was led by Antino Jackson, who scored 14 points and made four 3-pointers on seven attempts. Big man Isaiah Johnson figured in for 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Johnson made just one of five shots in the second half. Freshman Josh Williams made three 3-pointers for a total of nine points. Finally, Kwan Cheatham Jr. scored five points and added five rebounds while Noah Robotham added two points, three rebounds, four assists, and five steals.

It was a sad ending for two seniors that have played so well for the Zips for the past four seasons, but they both played very well. Reggie McAdams went 3-5 from deep for a total of nine points and four rebounds, while Jake Kretzer shot 2-6 from beyond the arc for six points. We expect some form of postseason play for the Zips, but these two certainly earned another run at the Final Four.

In the end the Zips shot 13-33 from deep, but the game was decided by rebounding. Akron was outrebounded 43-31, and they allowed Buffalo to grab 13 offensive rebounds.

 

 

Reid Lifts Buffalo over Central Michigan in Overtime 73-71 to Win the Women’s MAC Championship

Cleveland, Oh- After it was all said and done, and the confetti fell, Buffalo came out on top of the Women’s MAC Championship as Champs. Buffalo defeated Central Michigan in Overtime 73-71 with a game winning shot by Sophomore Stephanie Reid. To clinch Buffalo’s first Women’s MAC Championship.

After a back and forth game, that would go into overtime, Buffalo held on with one final play. Buffalo came into the tournament the 8 seed. On their way to the championship they beat the number 1 seeded Ohio Bobcats, then defeated Akron in the semifinals, then beat out Central Michigan.

The game started after a re-tip, then the action started when Buffalo got the opening tip and got a quick and 1 by Brittany Morrison. Putting them up 3-0 early. Central Michigan then got on the board with two free throws from Tinara Moore. This was then followed up with a small run by Buffalo, as they extended the lead to 16-9. This run was led by Joanna Smith as she put up 5 points in that run.

After the first quarter Buffalo held a 24-18 lead. Buffalo was led by Smith who finished the quarter with 8 points, and also got 5 assists from Stephanie Reid. Buffalo only missed one three in the quarter shooting 3 of 4. For Central Michigan Moore led the way with 9 points while Da’Jourie Turner added another 6 points.

Central Michigan went on a run at the start of the Second Quarter, tying the game at 29 with 5:43 left in the quarter. The run was led by Moore and Aleah Swary who had a few steals and rebounds as well as put back to tie the game for Central Michigan. After a quick 5-0 coming out of the timeout of Central Michigan, Buffalo came back to tie it after a Gabi Bade’s three and two free throws from Mirte Scheper to tie the game at 34.

Going into half time Buffalo led Central Michigan 37-36. As the time expired at the end of the quarter Courtney Wilkins hit a three to put Buffalo ahead going into half time. For Buffalo, Joanna Smith had 11 points, and the next highest scorer was Brittany Morrison with 5. Stephanie Reid had added 9 assists for the Bulls. Buffalo shot 44% in the first half, while making 6 of 12 three pointers. For Central Michigan, they are led by Tinara Moore, she had 14 points with 4 assists. Da’Jourie Turner added another 8 for Central Michigan. Central Michigan shot 41% percent in the first half, and had only hit 2 out of there 6 threes.

As the Third Quarter went along, it picked up pace. It started off slow but picked up with about three minutes remaining. When the quarter ended Central Michigan was leading 53-50. To end the quarter, Cassie Breen of Central Michigan hit a three. For Buffalo, Reid picked up her scoring, adding 6 points on 3 nifty drives to the basket.

From the start of the 4th quarter, it was back and forth. After three intense minutes of trading baskets and free throws, Central Michigan hit an And 1, then on the other end Buffalo returns the favor with a three from Smith. After a few more hectic minutes of play, the game was tied at 60 as the last media time out occurred.

With 2:42 remaining, after a near shot clock violation, Mirte Scheper makes a put back shot and that put Buffalo up 64-60. After the time out, Central Michigan came back with a quick 4 points to tie the game at 64.

After a missed lay-up by Reid, Central Michigan was able to get the rebound and call a time out before Buffalo could come in for the tie up. With 28 seconds remain, Central Michigan controlled the ball. Central Michigan could not get a good shot off on the final possession, making the game go into overtime to determine the winner of the Women MAC Championship.

Overtime started sloppy, neither team made a shot for the first minute and a half, the first score occurred when Central Michigan’s Jewel Cotton made 1 of 2 free throws to give Central Michigan a 65-64 lead with 3:52 remaining in the game. Then on the other end the first jump shot was made as Katherine Ups hit a three for Buffalo, then Presley Hudson hit a running layup for Central then Ups hit another three all in the span of thirty seconds to give Buffalo a 70-67 lead.

After a missed layup again by Reid, in traffic, Central Michigan got a big basket by Breen, as she hit a jumper with 10.4 seconds left to cut the lead to 70-69. The foul game began after a Buffalo timeout. With 8.6 seconds remaining, Cassie Oursler missed her first free throw, then hit her second, putting Buffalo ahead, 71-69. After a blocking foul on Reid, Hudson would go to the line for 2 free throws. She hit the first, and hit the second. Tying the game at 71. Buffalo with the timeout with 3.4 seconds left.

On the final play of the game, Reid hit a running layup to beat Central Michigan at the Buzzer 73-71. Buffalo wins the Girls MAC Championship and will go to Match Madness. This is Buffalo’s first Girls MAC Championship.

Reid finished the game with a double-double, she had 10 points and 12 assists. Smith added 23 points for Buffalo as well. Buffalo shot 40% for the game and hit 10 of 20 threes.

For Central Michigan, Moore finished with 18, Turner had 15 and Hudson and Breen each had 10 points. They shot 36.4% for the game, hitting only 4 of 16 threes.

After the Game Reid was awarded MVP of the Tournament and was an All-Tournament member as well.

 

Buffalo Bulls to face Akron in MAC Championship

Cleveland, OH- The nightcap Men’s semi-final game was a heavyweight bout that saw the 2nd-seeded Ohio Bobcats face off against the 3rd-seeded Bulls of Buffalo. The Bobcats sported the MAC player of the year in Antonio Campbell who averaged 17.6 PPG during the regular season. The Bulls looked towards a return to the MAC championship to defend their title.

 

The first half got off to a sluggish start offensively for both teams. The first ten minutes of the half only yielded a combined 27 points and neither team shot better than 33% from the field. The stifled offenses were less a product of great defense and more a product of blown layups and shoddy shooting from the perimeter by both teams.

 

Towards the end of the first half the shooting warmed up a little bit for both teams as the percentages crept up near the 40-45% range from the field. Buffalo started to pull away with a minute and a half until halftime, taking a double-digit lead at 36-24. The score at the midway break was 41-29 in favor of the Buffalo Bulls. Nick Perkins and Willie Connor led the scoring for Buffalo 12 points a piece; the leading scorer for the Bobcats was Antonio Campbell with 11.

 

Both teams seemed to benefit from the halftime shoot around, the Bobcats started the half 4-5 and the Bulls started 3-4 from the field. The score after three minutes of play was 53-40 in favor of the Bulls. Nobody wanted to miss in the second half, a far cry from the first half of play. Ohio went on a 10-3 run to pull within five with 14 minutes to play. Buffalo’s Willie Connor took matters into his own hands to stop the bleeding, hitting a three pointer and layup to push the lead back up to ten points, making the score 60-50.

 

The Bobcats got the deficit under double digits at 67-58; Ohio started to make a few shots and Buffalo’s offense became stagnant and ineffective with less than 10 minutes to play in the game. Two straight offensive fouls going against Buffalo allowed Ohio to once again cut the lead down to five, making it 67-62. The Bulls went on a 12-2 run that opened up a fifteen-point lead on the Bobcats that all but ended the game. Buffalo emerged victorious, the final score on the jumbo-tron at The Q read 88-74.

Buffalo will play Akron in the MAC Championship tomorrow.

Zips beat Falcons, advance to MAC Championship

The University of Akron men’s basketball team defeated cross-state foe Bowling Green on Friday night, 80-66, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The win advanced the Zips to the Mid-American Conference Championship Game, where they will play either the Ohio Bobcats or the Buffalo Bulls.

The Zips had five players score double-digit points, led by Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson. Johnson led the way for both teams, scoring 23 points on 9-11 shooting. Johnson also grabbed a team-high six rebounds and blocked one shot. Senior Jake Kretzer also came off the bench to score 15 points and collect five rebounds. Kretzer made three out of four 3-pointers and made both of his free throws.

The starters also played a strong game. Senior Reggie McAdams made two 3-pointers and six free throws to total 14 points. McAdams also pulled in three rebounds, dished out two assists, blocked two shots, and had two steals. Houston native Antino Jackson made two shots from deep and finished with 12 points and four assists. Sophomore point guard Noah Robotham finished with 11 points, while Kwan Cheatham Jr. added five points.

Bowling Green was led by freshman guard Antwon Lillard, who scored 12 points and pulled in four rebounds. Spencer Parker and David Joseph each scored 11 points for the Falcons, while Zach Denny scored nine points off the bench. Rasheed Worrell came off the bench and led Bowling Green with 11points while adding five points.

The Zips found themselves down early, 6-5. However, a 10-3 run fueled them to a 15-9 lead just over five minutes into the first half. After back-to-back Falcons baskets, the Zips went on another run. This time it was a 9-0 run that put them ahead 24-13. The two teams traded baskets for most of the remainder of the half, and the Zips went into the half with a 41-35 lead.

Isaiah Johnson led the way for Akron at the half with 12 points. Johnson went 4-6 from the foul line in the half. McAdams scored ten points in the half, going 2-5 from beyond the arc and 4-4 from the foul line. Finally, Jackson had seven first half points while Kretzer added six points off two 3-pointers. Bowling Green was led by Parker, who had seven points in the first half, while Lillard scored six and Joseph added five.

The Zips outscored the Falcons 39-31 in the second half, and the lively crowd played a major role. The crowd at Quicken Loans Arena was mostly Akron fans, and they showed that late in the second half especially. They nearly sent the roof off The Q when Jackson found McAdams for an alley-oop dunk. Then, after a failed Bowling Green possession, Jackson stuck the dagger into Bowling Green with a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock, and the crowd went into a frenzy as the Falcons called a timeout. The shot gave Akron a 72-59 lead with just 4:06 left to play. The Zips rolled on to an 80-66 victory.

For the Zips, they will play a team that they already beat twice this season in either scenario. If the win the MAC Championship, then they will go to March Madness and play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. The season is over for Bowling Green, but they made a strong run after upsetting Kent State and Central Michigan in the first two rounds of the MAC Tournament.

Central Michigan tops Eastern, advances to Championship

CLEVELAND, Ohio- In the Buckeye State, two teams from the Wolverine State took center stage at Quicken Loans Arena. The #2 seed Central Michigan Chippewas (22-9) took on the #6 seed Eastern Michigan Eagles (21-11) in the semi-finals of the Mid-American Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.

 

Eastern Michigan came out of the gates fast, taking a 24-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. Junior guard Phillis Webb set the pace, scoring 11 points in the opening period.

 

The Eagles would stretch the lead to 13 points, until Central answered with a run of their own. The run was capped by a Jasmine Harris three which forced the Eagles to call a timeout with the lead back down to five. The teams waivered back and forth until halftime, with the Eagles holding a 41-37 lead.

 

Central started the second half with a bang thanks to two Presley Hudson 3’s and another from Cassandra Breen. They would add another quick basket to cap an 11-4 run, and the Eagles lead was suddenly gone. The Chippewas would out score Eastern 32-17 in the third quarter and take a 69-58 lead into the final period.

 

The run didn’t stop there, as Central came out and dominated the start fourth quarter. The Eagles were unable to overcome the quarter and a half run, as the Chippewas went on to win the game 86-71.

 

Breen led all scorers with 24 points. Tinara Moore also added 21 points and 11 rebounds. Webb led Eastern Michigan with 20 points.

 

With the win, Central Michigan advances to the MAC Championship, where they will face the #8 seed Buffalo for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The game will take place at Quicken Loans Arena tomorrow at 1 p.m.