By: Parker Perry
The sixth seeded University of Akron women’s basketball team had no problem handling the eleventh seeded Buffalo Bulls Saturday afternoon in their first game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, with a final score of 96-82.
Akron started the blowout early by converting on their first three possessions. Sophomores Sina King and Hanna Luburgh combined for 10 of the first 12 points scored by the Zips. With four minutes played, UA led the Bulls 12-6.
Taylor Ruper had yet to get into the action, but that would quickly change. Ruper knocked down her first of seven three-pointers to give the Zips the largest lead of the day, nine, with 14 minutes to play in the half.
Despite the dominance that Akron displayed in the paint, Buffalo figured out a way to cut the lead down to four. Buffalo’s Christa Baccas found an open lane that she was able to drive through to find the bucket. This would be the closest Buffalo would come to mounting a comeback.
The Zips went on an 8-0 run that turned a four-point lead into a 12. King started the action with four points. Kacie Cassell then converted a free throw, and Jasmine Mushington finished the run with three points, scoring a layup and a free throw.
Akron followed that run up with another, a 1-6 run that saw Ruper and Cassell land a three. And the three-pointers just kept on coming.
Ruper landed two more consecutive threes, and Carly Young got into the action with a three from almost 30 feet out. Ruper finished with an additional two before the Bulls were able build a little momentum.
The game was all but out of reach at the half, as Akron entered the locker rooms with a 58-33 lead. Despite this fact, Akron continued the attack.
The Zips started the second with a 4-0 run before the Bulls mounted some momentum of their own and cut the lead to 23. However, it would not last long.
Akron at one point in the second led the Bulls by 32 points. Buffalo was able to cut into the lead while Akron played their backups and substitutes. And though UB did go on a 9-0 run at one point, the game was never in doubt.
The leading scorers for the Bulls were senior Brittany Hedderson and sophomore Nytor Longer. Longer finished with 23 points to her credit, while Hedderson finished with 31 points of her own. However, neither of these performances was nearly enough to combat the team effort that Akron put out.
Akron finished with five players scoring in double digits. King and Ruper led the way with 21 and 20 points, respectively. Ti’eshia Stubbs, Mushington and Young each scored 13 or more points.
Akron will play Northern Illinois in round two of the MAC Tournament. The Zips fell to NIU earlier in the year with a 72-66 score. The Zips were missing their leading scorer King when that matchup took place.
Northern Illinois, is coming off a just as dominate 68-51 win against Western Michigan. The Huskies are led by freshman forward Clare Jackubicek. Jackubicek has averaged 11 points per game so far this season, and has shown good leadership for only being in her first year.
The Zips last year made it to Cleveland before being knocked out by Toledo in a tight game in the second round. The Zips will have a better chance to surpass that mark due to the new format of the Mid-American Conference that allows them to play the No. 7 seed instead of the second seed.