Akron Comes From Behind to Advance to MAC Championship

Written by on March 15, 2024

The Zips fell behind 2-0 early on, but scored the game’s next eight points to go up six with 15:53 remaining in the first half. 

Unfortunately for Akron, those eight points would wind up being half of their first half total.

Ohio cut the lead to two, but then went over five minutes without scoring. Akron only mustered two points in that stretch, leaving the Bobcats only down 10-6.

After gaining the 10-6 lead, Akron went on a cold streak of their own, lasting nearly four and a half minutes. 

Ohio took advantage, going up 13-10 before the Zips were able to end the drought with a layup.

Down 16-14, Akron made a jump shot to knot it up with 5:12 left. Those were their final points of the first half. 

The Bobcat offense separated themselves, scoring ten points in the final five minutes to claim a 26-16 halftime lead.

The Zips’ offense played better to start the second half. It wasn’t impressive, but it certainly was an improvement, as they scored ten points in the first seven and a half minutes of the half.

It was enough to put pressure on Ohio’s offense to keep scoring, whereas in the first half, if the Bobcats committed a turnover, they didn’t have to worry too much about it turning into points on the other end.

A three-pointer cut the lead to six points with over 11 minutes remaining, and after Ohio made a layup, another three cut the lead down to two. Another Ohio two-pointer and Akron three-pointer brought the difference down to one with nine minutes left.

A pair of free throws gave the Zips a 43-42 lead, their first since the 8:38 mark of the first half. On the next possession, the Bobcats made a pair of their own to retake the lead, then another pair extended it to three with under eight minutes to go. Another layup then pushed it up to five.

Akron came right back, scoring 11 in a row to take the 54-48 lead at the 4:32 mark. 

Ohio ended their three-minute scoreless drought with an alleyoop, only for it to be answered with another three-pointer by the Zips. Another jumper would push the lead to 59-50 with 3:05 left in the game.

The Bobcats showed fight, scoring six points in a minute to get the game back to a one-possession game. However, a crucial unforced turnover gave the ball back to the Zips.

A questionable call on the ensuing possession resulted in two free throws and a 61-56 lead for Akron with 1:20 left.

Another questionable call that went against the Bobcats resulted in a jump ball, which favored Akron. 

After getting a stop, Ohio scored with 35 seconds left to cut the lead to 61-58 and the Bobcats had to foul. Akron made the first free throw but missed the second, giving Ohio some life.

The Bobcats quickly cashed in a layup to bring the score to 62-60 with 20 seconds. After trying to get a steal, Ohio eventually had to foul with 14.9 seconds remaining. 

This time, the Zips made both free throws, extending the lead back up to four. Needing a three-pointer, Ohio forced one up, but did not get it to go. 

Akron committed a foul on the rebound attempt with 5.5 seconds, giving Ohio free throws. 

 It may have been wise for Ohio to intentionally miss the second free throw to give themselves a shot at the offensive rebound that could have possibly turned into a game-tying three-pointer.

This was not the case, as they cashed in both free throws to cut the lead to two. The Bobcats fouled after the inbounds pass and got what they needed when the Zips missed the first free throw. They made the second, making the score 65-62 with 3.9 seconds left.

With one last chance, Ohio rushed down the court and put up a potential game-tying three-pointer, but it was too strong and Akron got the hard-earned victory.

With this being their last run together as a team, Akron’s fifth year seniors came through when they needed to help them advance to the championship game.

They will play their rival Kent State Golden Flashes on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. for the MAC Tournament Championship and  a spot in March Madness.

Akron played Kent State twice this year and won both games. They played their rival in last year’s semifinals and lost, as well as the 2022 Championship Game, where they blew out the Flashes by 20.

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