“CLEVELAND: The University of Akron men’s basketball team connected on eight second-half 3-pointers to rally past the Miami University RedHawks 73-63 in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Thursday night. The Zips (21-12) will face top-seeded Bowling Green in tonight’s second tournament semifinal at Quicken Loans Arena.””
CLEVELAND: The University of Akron men’s basketball team connected on eight second-half 3-pointers to rally past the Miami University RedHawks 73-63 in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Thursday night.
The Zips (21-12) will face top-seeded Bowling Green in tonight’s second tournament semifinal at Quicken Loans Arena.
UA’s chances of advancing looked bleak in the early going, as MU jumped out to an 11-to-1 lead with 14:41 left in the first half. The Zips’ first field goal make didn’t come until freshman Brett McClanahan hit the team’s first 3-pointer about six minutes into the contest.
Along with its early shooting struggles, the team lost starting point guard Anthony Humpty Hitchens for the game in the midst of the RedHawks’ run, as he was unable to play with his injured ankle.
Hitchens’ injury, however, provided an opportunity for sophomore guard Steve McNees to play extended minutes and run the team’s offense. McNees, who has struggled throughout much of the season, made five of his six first half shots, including four 3-pointers to keep the Zips within striking distance of the RedHawks in the first half.
When [Humpty] got hurt last night I knew I was going to have to play more minutes, McNees said. I knew that I had to run the show and, probably, for most of the game.
Miami (17-13) held an 8-point advantage with 3:17 remaining in the half before UA went a run spearheaded by McNess to cut its halftime deficit to 32-31.
I thought [Miami] punched us on the left, the right, and the middle in the face, UA head coach Keith Dambrot said. Then, our guys just rallied.
I’m really proud of our guys and their resolve.
The Zips took their first lead of the game on a put-back layup by junior forward Chris McKnight on the team’s first possession of the second half. UA hit timely shots and dominated the offensive and defensive glass to maintain the lead for the majority of second half.
We got beat by a superior team, Miami head coach Charlie Coles said. They really operated well and played every phase of the game.
The Zips outrebounded the RedHawks 40-to-28 for the game, including 19-to-7 on the offensive glass.
Rebounds are about heart and determination, MU senior Tyler Dierkers said. They were outworking us on the boards.
They went out and got it.
MU senior guard Michael Bramos led all scorers with a game-high 24 points. McNees’ 17 points led the way for the Zips while sophomore guard Darryl Roberts added 12 and freshman Nikola Cvetinovic contributed 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds, which tied McKnight for the team-high.
Tip-off between the Falcons and Zips in tonight’s semifinal matchup is set for approximately 9:30 p.m.