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A losing streak to end the season forced the Akron Zips to play more basketball than they were hoping for to get this far. A total of three overtime periods the past 3 games forced the Zips to play even more. In the end it was worth it as the Zips beat cross-town rivals Kent St. 66-65 in Overtime to win the 2011 MAC Tournament and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
It was the 5th straight championship game appearance for Akron, who improves to 2-3 in those games. One of the losses came to the Kent St. Golden Flashes 74-55 back in 2008. Akron had also lost to the Flashes 79-68 in the season finale, forcing the Zips to play their way to Cleveland for the quarterfinals. None of it seemed to phase the Zips, who were arguably the most complete team in the MAC all season, even if they didn't always play like it.
Akron nearly was run out of the buolding early on as Kent St. jumped out to a 14-3 lead early in the first half. Akron was able to keep close, thanks to the clutch outside shooting of Steve McNees who scored 14 points and led an Akron rally that saw the Zips actually take their first lead on a McNees three-ball with :33 seconds to go in the half, giving the Zips a 33-31 lead at the break.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair with neither team leading by more than 4 points. Akron led by one when Justin Greene made one of two free throws to tie the game with :42 seconds left. Both teams then missed opportunities, sending the game to overtime.
Kent State took the early advantage on a three-ball by Randall Holt and held onto the lead until Brett McKnight hit two free throws with :13 seconds to go, giving the Zips a 66-65 lead they would not relinquish. Kent State had two chances to win, but Rodriquez Sherman had his shot blocked by 7-footer Zeke Marshall and Randal Holt missed a game-winning three.
Kent State struggled from the field all day shooting just 33.3% from the field, while making just 12-23 from the free throw line. Akron shot 41% from the field and was 8-19 from deep.
While the seedings may not show it, the two best teams in the Mid-American Conference will battle it out for the 2011 MAC Tournament Championship and an automatic bid in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Kent State and Akron have been staples in the MAC Tournament for years - this is the 5th title game in a row for the Zips - and are the most complete teams in the MAC.
Akron once again used a big 1st half to get past #2-seed Western Michigan in the Semi-finals 79-68. Quincy Diggs scored 18 points to lead the Zips.
WMU (20-12) was paced by Demetrius Ward, who scored a game-high 22 points in a losing effort. Mike Douglas also got involved, netting 11 points for the Broncos, while Flenard Whitfield tallied nine points and 10 rebounds and Nate Hutcheson grabbed 12 boards.
Akron got off to a fast start, shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first half, to take a 41-27 lead at the break.
The Zips put the game away in the second stanza, knocking down 14-of-19 free- throw attempts, en route to an 11-point victory.
The Akron bench proved to be the difference in this contest, outscoring the Broncos' reserves 27-12 in the win.
Kent State used a big second half to get past Ball State in yesterday's late game. Justin Greene's double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds led the top-seeded Kent State Golden Flashes past the fourth- seeded Ball State Cardinals, 79-68, in a Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal matchup from Quicken Loans Arena.
Michael Porrini scored 15 points and grabbed nine boards for Kent State (23-10), which earned a date with sixth-seeded Akron in the tournament championship. Rodriguez Sherman added 13 points for the Golden Flashes, while Carlton Guyton and Justin Manns added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Both teams were hot early, as the first half saw Kent State shoot 60 percent from the field and Ball State shoot 56 percent from the field. The Golden Flashes attempted 10 more field goals than the Cardinals, however, to take a 48-43 lead into the break.
After intermission, Kent State applied pressure defensively, holding the Cardinals to just 32.1 percent shooting to earn the win.
The Golden Flashes never did cool off, shooting an efficient 55.4 percent from the field for the game.
The Akron Zips might be the #6 seed in the 2011 MAC Tournament but that doesn’t mean they should be considered a long-shot to win the tournament. The Zips proved just how good they can be during the 1st half of their quarterfinal win over Miami. Of course, after taking a 26-10 halftime lead, the Zips showed the inconsistency that has plagued them all season – they allowed the Redhawks to actually take the lead before winning in double-overtime.
The Broncos were impressive as well, beating a pesky Bowling Green squad in the quarterfinals to advance to face the Zips. The teams faced each other just once during the season – a 83-71 win by Akron on February 9. The Broncos got stronger after the loss, however, winning 8 of their final 9 games.
Kent St.. has been the big name in the MAC for awhile now, getting as far as the Elite Eight just a few years ago. Coaches have come and gone, but the flashes continue to win, especially in-conference. They’ll face the #4 seed Ball St. in the semi-finals, looking to get back to the MAC Championship Game.
Ball St. survived a rough stretch in the middle of the season to be a top-4 seed. After starting 6-0 in conference play, the Cardinals lost 7-of-9 before winning 4 of their final 5 to finish the season. Ball St. beat Ohio 76-73 in overtime late last night to advance to face Kent St.
The Kent St. Golden Flashes are looking to get back to the top of the MAC Conference mountain and coming in as the #1 seed in 2011 is a great start – now they need to produce on the court. The Flashes raced to a 16 point halftime lead, then thwarted a mile Buffalo Bulls comeback attempt to down the #8 seed 73-62 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Using a balanced offense led by Rodriguez Sherman’s 18 points, and a pair of double-doubles – Justin Greene scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Michael Porrini Scored 13 points to go along with 10 rebounds of his own – the Flashes were able to keep the Bulls at a good distance all night.
Buffalo’s offense was a one man show with forward Javon McCrea dropping 28 points and grabbing 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who out-rebounded Kent St. 40-35.
Kent St. led 41-25 at the half before Buffalo made a little bit of a run. The Bulls cut the lead to 10 – 46-36 – with 15 minutes to go, and got within 4 at 56-52 with 8 minutes to go before the Flashes went on a 10-4 run to put the game away.
Kent State will face the winner of Thursday’s late game between Ball St. and Ohio.
Akron always finds a way to make it interesting in the MAC Tournament. The 2011 MAC Tournament is no different for the Zips, how marched out to a 26-10 halftime lead before needing a rally - a couple of them, in fact, to beat #3 seed Miami-Ohio 82-75 in 2OT.
The Zips made it look easy in the first half, and actually took a 29-10 lead early in the 2nd half before the RedHawks began their comeback. What will be remembered, however, was Miami's inability to hit free throws - the RedHawks shot just 55% from the free throw line(20-36), including just 2-11 in the overtime sessions.
Guard Brett McClanahan led the Zips with 20 points and 9 rebounds while Brett McKnight added 16 points on 9-13 shooting. Akron shot just 36.5% from the field - 29% from three point range - allowing Miami to hang around and nearly steal a game that had no business being in.
Orlando Williams scored 16 points for Miami while Allen Roberts and Julian Mavunga each scored 14 points. Mavunga was the main culprit at the free throw line, going just 10-19 from the stripe.
After trailing by 19, Miami steadily clawed their way back into the game and actually took a 55-54 lead with 2:47 to go in the game. Akron responded with a three by McKnight, then added another by Brett McClanahan to take a 5-point lead with 1:36 left. Miami once again came back, and trailed 62-60 with :18 seconds left before Akron's McKnight made 1-of-2 free throws to give Miami a chance to tie. Jon Harris took advantage of the opportunity, drilling a deep three with :09 seconds left to force overtime.
The teams traded leads in the first overtime when Miami went cold from the free throw line. Perhaps the most crucial moment came with :39 seconds left and Akron leading by 1. Allen Roberto was fouled on a three-point attempt, and after hitting the first to tie the game at 71, missed the next two. Miami would miss 9 straight free throws to finish the game.
Miami took a brief lead in the second overtime - 75-74 - before Alex Abreu hit a three for the Zips. Akron never trailed again and outscored Miami 11-4 in the final 5 minutes.
Akron doesn't have long to recover. The Zips will face #2 seed Western Michigan tomorrow afternoon with a shot at their 5th straight MAC Finals appearance
The 2011 MAC Tournament is underway, and the Western Michigan Broncos became the first team to move on to the semifinals tomorrow with a 67-56 win over the Bowling Green Falcons at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Guard Dee Brown led the Falcons with 17 points and 5 rebounds, but team leaders Scott Thomas and A'uston Calhoun combined to score 14 points on 5-16 shooting to hamper BG's hopes for the upset. Forward Danny McElroy did his best to make up for it, scoring 15 points off the bench for BG, who shot 42.9% from the field in dropping to 14-19 on the year. The Falcons really struggled from behind the arc, shooting just 1-12 from deep while Western Michigan made 6-16 from three.
The Broncos led 33-26 at halftime and never really seemed to be in danger despite the lead hovering around 10 points the entire second half. Western Michigan committed just 8 turnovers to Bowling Green's 13 and took 10 more free throws.
Western Michigan will await the winner of Thursday's second game between Akron and Miami-Ohio.
12:30PM et - #2 Western Michigan(19-11, 11-5) Vs. #7 Bowling Green(14-18, 8-8) ESPN3
The 2011 MAC Tournament Quarterfinals get under way this afternoon as the scene shifts to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The first game of the day sees the #2 Seed Western Michigan taking on the #7 seed, Bowling Green. The Falcons finished the season losers of 7 of their lat 10 games and lost their only meeting with Western Michigan 75-61 on February 5.
The Falcons are led by sophomore A'uston Calhoun's 12.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, and junior Scott Thomas, who average 11.4 points per game, give the Falcons a solid front court. If both of these guys get some help from a shaky backcourt, the Falcons could be a surprise team this weekend.
Western Michigan seems to be peaking at the right time. The Broncos come into the game having won 8-of-10. Like BG, Western gets solid front court play from junior forward Flenard Whitfield who averages 13.3 ppg. Where they really have an advantage over BG is in the backcourt where Demetrius Ward drops in 14 points per game.
The Broncos also feature freshman forward Juwan Howard Jr., the son of the former Fab-5'er, who gives the Broncos nearly 10 points per game and has been improving all season long.
PREDICTION: Western Michigan is too much for Bowling Green - WMU 72 - BG 59
The first round of the 2011 MAC Tournament was completed last night with all four home teams advancing to the quarterfinals which take place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Thursday, March 10.
12:30PM et – #2 Western Michigan(19-11, 11-5) Vs. #7 Bowling Green(14-18, 8-8) ESPN3
2:30PM et – #3 Miami-Ohio(16-15, 11-5) Vs. #6 Akron(20-12, 9-7) ESPN3
7:00PM et – #1 Kent State(21-10, 12-4) Vs. #8 Buffalo(18-12, 8-8) ESPN3
9:30PM et – #4 Ball State(18-12, 10-6) Vs. #5 Ohio(18-14, 9-7) ESPN 3
The Akron Zips have survived and advanced in the 2011 MAC Basketball Tournament, beating Eastern Michigan 67-53 at James A. Rhodes Arena in the first round of a tournament the Zips have advanced to the Final game four straight years.
Nikola Cvetinivic scored 13 points while Brett McKnight added 11 for the Zips who ended a two-game losing streak that cost them a chance at a first round BYE.
Akron shot 49% from the field to just 37% for the Eagles, but needed a late run to finally put Eastern Michigan away. The Zips move on to face Miami-Ohio in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The Akron Zips find themselves in a rematch of their 2010 Quarterfinal matchup in the First Round of the 2011 MAC Basketball Tournament. These first round games take place on-campus, and Akron has earned the right to host the Eagles at James A. Rhodes Arena.
It took double-overtime for the Zips to get past the Eagles last year, and the Eagles already have a 60-56 win over the Zips in 2011. The winner gets Miami-Ohio in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Not much went right for the Eagles this season, as they stumbled through a 21- loss regular season. Eastern Michigan was able to snap a three-game slide with a 69-50 decision over Toledo in its season finale, but following a 5-11 mark in league play it is tough to see the Eagles soaring to their first league title since 1998.
As for the Zips, they have played in the MAC title game four straight seasons, but won it jut once in 2009. Last year, Akron fell just short against Ohio, 81-75, in overtime. Akron took a few steps backwards this year, posting just a 9-7 ledger in league play, and comes into this event with back-to-back losses to Ohio and Kent State.
The Eagles can attribute their poor season to their lack of success at the offensive end of the floor. Eastern Michigan was able to finish fourth in the league, holding opponents to just 65.4 ppg, but that did not matter since the team produced just 61.8 ppg on the year, which was 10th best in the conference. One-third of the team's production has come from Brandon Bowdry, who has been one of the toughest forwards in the league. Bowdry finished second in the MAC with 20.1 ppg, while pacing the conference with 9.5 rpg. However, outside of Bowdry's effort there is not much for coach Charles Ramsey to rely on, as the next best player has been Derek Thompson, who is chipping in 9.6 points per matchup.
For Akron to play in its fifth consecutive tournament championship game, the Zips much continue to use the formula that has worked for this team, and that is tenacious defense. Akron, which finished fifth in the league in that department, held opponents to just 65.6 ppg on the year. However, at the other end of the floor is where the Zips had trouble this year. Sure, the team is averaging 70.1 ppg, which isn't terrible, but there is not a player on the roster who can take over a game. Nikola Cvetinovic has been the team's most productive player, but is comes into this event averaging just 12.3 ppg and 6.9 rpg. Brett McKnight and Brett McClanahan have also contributed this season, as both players are netting 10.1 ppg apiece.
Eastern Michigan has always been a tough matchup for Akron, but the Zips should have the upper hand in this contest thanks to homecourt advantage.
The 2011 MAC Tournament gets under way tonight with four on-campus games, including the University of Akron in action against Eastern Michigan at James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron. The Zips come into the tournament as the No. 6 seed after an up-and-down 2010/11 season.
A complete look at the 2011 MAC Tournament First Round Schedule is below:
GAME No. 1:
No. 12 Toledo(4-27, 1-15) at No. 5 Ohio University(17-14, 9-7)
GAME No. 2:
No. 11 Eastern Michigan(9-21, 5-11) at No. 6 Akron(19-12, 9-7)
GAME No. 3:
No. 10 Northern Illinois(9-20, 5-11) at No. 7 Bowling Green(13-18, 8-8)
GAME No. 4:
No. 9 Central Michigan(10-20, 7-9) at No. 8 Buffalo(17-12, 8-8)
Four teams, including top-seed Kent State received automatic births into the quarterfinals. Kent State will play the winner of the Buffalo/Central Michigan game while Akron, should they advance, would face Miami (OH) in the quarterfinals.
The 2011 MAC Basketball Tournament gets underway this week with the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament up for grabs. While the top four seeds receive a BYE into the 2nd round, it is hard to really point out a favorite. Below is the seeding for this year's Mid-American Conference Tournament:
3. Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
5. Ohio Bobcats
6. Akron Zips
12. Toledo Rockets
The tournament gets underway Tuesday, March 8 with four on-campus games. The University of Akron is one of the teams in action while Kent State received a BYE into the 2nd Round.
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