The University of Akron women’s basketball team is going back to Quicken Loans Arena for the second straight season. Akron defeated Western Michigan 76-65 Saturday afternoon, which will pin the 8th seeded Zips up against the No. 1 seed Toledo.
“The University of Akron women’s basketball team is going back to Quicken Loans Arena for the second straight season. Akron defeated Western Michigan 76-65 Saturday afternoon, which will pin the 8th seeded Zips up against the No. 1 seed Toledo.
We fought hard, we did what coach asked, and we’re going to the Q, said senior forward Kara Murphy.
Akron (14-15) took care of business Saturday afternoon against WMU (9-21), earning their way to a quarterfinal match-up against the Rockets. The tip off for that game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday.
A strong second half against the Broncos has the Zips playing in Cleveland for only the fourth time in school history.
It’s huge for us. We knew we had to come in prepared or it was one and done, said Murphy, who chipped in 18 points to complement five rebounds in her final game at James A. Rhodes Arena.
Sophomore standout Rachel Tecca also had a huge game, dropping in 19 points, pulling down 11 boards and blocking a career-high four shots. Tecca was a constant force inside for all 40 minutes of action.
If I got it in the post, I’d face up and kick it to our guards, said Tecca, who saw her teammates start 0-for-7 from three-point range, but then knock down their next six from behind the arc.
A fast-paced first half had the Zips leading 35-31 at the break after a pair of threes from freshmen Sina King and Murphy.
The second half margin stayed within a couple of buckets for the Broncos, but the three-point shooting for the Zips kept them in front in the opening minutes.
A big run midway through the half for Akron increased the lead to 53-43 with just over 10 minutes to play.
The Broncos cut Akron’s lead to 53-47, but another Akron run widened the lead to 59-47 with five minutes left in the ball game.
Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch kept Western Michigan from getting within striking distance as the Zips took the 11-point victory.
We made those free throws when we needed to, said Head Coach Jodi Kest, who saw her team go 26-for-30 from the charity stripe.
Kest also saw great bench production as King and Jasmine Mushington each poured in 10 points, joining Tecca and Murphy in double figures.
Today, I thought it was a team effort, said Kest. I’m very confident with my kids coming off the bench.
The Zips will look for similar production Wednesday as they switch gears to Toledo (22-7).
The Feb. 2 match-up between the two schools was within reach for Akron in the closing minutes, but they ended up falling 58-49 to the Rockets.
The winner of the Akron-Toledo game will face the winner of the Eastern Michigan-Kent State game. That semifinal match-up will be Friday at Quicken Loans Arena.