Akron takes care of Eastern Michigan 79-62 in first round of Quarterfinals

The Akron Men’s basketball team defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles 79-62 in the first game of the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals and will move onto the semifinals. Akron was able to play better in the second half to move into the next round.

In the first half the game started off slow and neither team could score a basket. Eastern Michigan forward James Thompson IV was able to make the first basket and continued to make back to back baskets for the Eagles. He finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds, and two steals. Akron center Isaiah Johnson played very well and led the Zips with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. Akron junior guard Noah Robotham scored 19 and was 3 for 4 from 3 point range. Also, sophomore guard Josh Williams added 11 points, and knocked down 3 key pointers. Akron ranks 8th in the NCAA RPI (Rating Percentage Index) in total three point field goals made, but made only 9 three pointers of 28 attempts. The Zips were trailing the entire first half until Noah Robotham made a three pointer to take the lead over Eastern with 4:50. However, Eastern cut the lead to 3 and were down 30-27 at halftime.

In the second half the Eagles went on a run and cut Akron’s lead to 4 (55-51). Akron however was not intimidated and ended up the game strong. The Zips played better defense and made the Eagles turn the ball over a total of 13 times. Akron also moved the ball well and had a total of 11 assists on 25 made baskets. With 4:17 left in the game Akron was able to get two steals to put the game away. One was by Jimond Ivey who converted a layup, and the other one occurred directly afterwards by Josh Williams who knocked a much needed 3 pointer to put the Zips up by 11 (64-53). Akron was able to score 49 points in the second half to close out Eastern and move on.

Akron will play the winner of the Ball State Cardinals and Western Michigan Broncos Quarterfinals game in the semifinals game which will occur tomorrow evening at 5:30 pm at Quicken Loans Arena.

Below is the press conference with Akron Head Coach Keith Dambrot, Josh Williams, and Isaiah Johnson who all commented on the win against the Eastern Michigan. Also Dambrot talks about what it takes to win the 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.

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.

Eagles Cruise by Third Seeded Ball State

Cleveland, OH- The matinee game at The Q pit the number 6-seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles against the number 3-seeded Ball State Cardinals.

 

Ball State opened up the game with a 10-2 run that put the Eagles of Eastern Michigan on their heals from the get-go. Eastern Michigan battled back mid-way through the first quarter getting the deficit down to one, making it 16-15. The defenses of both teams tightened up towards the end of the quarter, at the end of the 1st Ball State lead 18-17.

 

The game heated up in intensity as the physicality of play increased. Players from both teams spent time on the floor early in the second quarter, but the referees kept their whistles in check as only one foul was called on either team through the first 3 and a half minutes of the quarter. Cha Sweeney of Eastern Michigan put back a teammates errant shot in mid air to give the Eagles their first lead of the game at 21-20. The Eagles went on a 13-4 run primarily led by Sweeney that gave them a 32-24 lead going into halftime. Sweeney led all scorers at the half with 19.

 

Ball State fought to cut down Eastern Michigan’s lead in the third. Going on 11-4 run to reduce the deficit to one mid way through the third. Cha Sweeney took it upon herself to stop the bleeding for the Eagles extending the lead to 7 with 4 minutes left to play in the third. Stingy defense and shoddy shooting by Ball State allowed the Eagles to take an 8-point lead going into to the 4th with the score 45-37.

 

The fourth quarter started off similar to the third quarter, Ball State battled back to reduce the gap, but Eastern Michigan kept their foot on the gas. The combination of Cha Sweeney and Chanise Baldwin allowed the Eagles to combat comeback attempts by the Cardinals. Eastern Michigan obtained it’s first double digit lead with a little over 5 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, leading 55-45. Ball State tried to erase the Eagle’s lead by shooting a barrage of threes, but that strategy was largely ineffective. The Cardinals shot a measly 20% from behind the arc. In the end, Eastern Michigan had the best player on the floor, Cha Sweeney dominated the entire game and ended with 29 points.

Eastern Michigan emerged victorious 67-53 and will play Central Michigan on Friday in the semifinals.