Akron wins their final regular season game against Buffalo

By: Parker Perry

The University of Akron women’s basketball team finished their regular season with a victory over the Buffalo Bulls Tuesday 78-69.

With the win, Akron clinched the six seed and will host a rematch against the Bulls Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Mid-American Conference.

UA entered the contest on a three-game losing streak. The Zips fell to the two top teams in the East division, Bowling Green and Miami, as well as rival Kent State. Buffalo, on the other hand, came into James A. Rhodes arena on a two-game winning streak. However, they were still was at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference.

It was senior night for the Akron Zips. UA honored four players who will not be returning next season by presenting them with framed jerseys. The players were Denver Mclean, Jasmine Mushington, Ti’eshia Stubbs and Natasha Williams.

Akron started the game with all four seniors on the floor. They fell behind 5-2 early in the contest before Taylor Ruper lit up the scoreboard with two consecutive threes to give her team the lead.

The two teams battled through the entire second half, staying within five points of each other for most of the half. Akron was able to take the advantage and keep the margin for most of the first 10 minutes of the half. Buffalo then mounted a comeback, pushed their lead to nine at one point, and went into the locker room with a six-point lead, 41-35.

Akron worked on cutting down the lead early in the second half. Methodically and slowly, UA was down just by one, 48-47, after a Stubbs layup. Stubbs was fouled on the play and with 16:27 remaining in the game tied the game at 48 with the made free throw. The Zips’ success did not last too long, however. Buffalo’s Christa Baccas, Brittney Hedderson and Nicki Hopkins combined for 10 points to push their team to their largest lead of the night. Hedderson and Hopkins both made three pointers in the stretch.

Hedderson was the scoring leader for Buffalo with 16 points. She controlled the perimeter for most of the night. However, Nytor Longar controlled the paint and scored 13 pointer of her own. She also came up with two blocks and 14 rebounds.

Despite being down by eight with 10 minutes to play, Akron did not panic. Again, UA slowly cut into the deficit slowly. After four minutes of playing solid defense and converting timely offense, Akron was down by just a point, 64-63.

The two teams played a small game of cat and mouse for the next four and a half minutes. Akron then picked the perfect time to make their move. Up by three, Akron found an open Ruper with two minutes remaining. Ruper knocked down her shot to put her team up by six. She would score an additional three points at the free throw line to put the game out of reach. Ruper scored the last nine points of the game.

Akron has beaten Buffalo twice this season. A third matchup will have higher stakes than the two prior. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Northern Illinois- Western Michigan game at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland, OH.