CLEVELAND – For second time in two days Akron has exacted some revenge against teams that beat them earlier in the season.
Tonight it was Western Michigan that felt the revenge wrath of the Zips as they fell to Akron 73-62.
In a game where Akron (23-9) consistently led and led by double digits starting at the end of the first half It came down to the Zips’ strong shooting performance.
Akron shot a blazing 58.7 percent (27-46) from the field versus 44.7 percent (21-47) for Western Michigan (20-12).
“I think we were able to shoot the ball well. One of the things coach emphasized was sharing the ball. I feel we didn’t run as many plays as we have because we were able to pass the ball around,” said Akron’s Chris Knight.
Akron coach Keith Dambrot thought his team turned up the intensity to pull out the win.
“We matched their intensity,” Dambrot said with a smile after the game.
Another key for the Zips was containing Western Michigan’s David Kool, who scored 24 points in yesterday’s win against Eastern Michigan. Akron managed to hold him under 50 percent (6-13) for the game, although he still got 17 points.
“We used a variety of people (on Kool), mostly (Nate) Linhart, who is very long. I thought the length bothered him,” explained Dambrot. “He gets a lot of points around the rim and at the line. I think Linhart gave him a little more trouble than he’s used to.”
The game started out with Akron’s Cedrick Middleton hitting a 3-pointer at the 19:37 mark and the Zips never trailed in the game. Akron finally pushed the lead out to double digits at the 6:32 mark when Chris Mc Knight put in a layup to make it 25-15.
By the half Akron pushed their lead to 13 points at 37-24.
In the second half the Broncos didn’t cut Akron’s lead to single digits until the 1:31 mark when Kool hit a 3-pointer to make it 67-59 but the Zips pushed the lead back to 11 by the end of the game, 73-62.
“They shot lights out. It was just too much for us to overcome. Said Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins. “We showed a lot of fight in the second half, but every time we came back they hit big shots.”
Game Two: Miami vs Kent State
Does history repeat itself? Miami attempted to answer that question in the semifinals against Kent State.
With :02 left Miami inbounded the ball in front of their bench they got the ball to their ace, Tim Politz. He got it in the lane, about five feet from the basket, he twisted shot it and it bounced off the rim, and Kent State won 49-47.
It was just a year ago that Doug Penno hit the game winner against Akron as time expired to punch Miami’s ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
But tonight it was not to be for Miami.
With :34 remaining in the game Miami’s Kenny Hayes put in a layup to tie the game 47-47.
After a Kent State (27-6) timeout they began working the ball around the perimeter and they finally got it to Al Fisher. He drove down the lane spun to his right and shot a floater over the out-stretched hand of Tyler Dierkers to put Kent State up 49-47 and that was stake the landed in Miami’s heart.
Fisher said he just was looking to get any shot when he got the game winner. “We were just looking to get a shot up. It’s easier when your coach and teammates have a lot of trust in you. It takes off a lot of the pressure.”
Miami actually out-shot Kent State 42.2 percent (19-45) to 35.8 percent (19-53) but Kent State coach Jim Christian thought it was experience and maintaining intensity that did the trick.
“We’ve been in many of these situations before. We’ve won many close games,” he said. “There is something to be said of the will to win. You have to be intense the whole time.”
Miami (17-15) scored the first basket a little over two minutes into the game on a layup by Hayes to go up 2-0. Aside from a brief one point lead a little over two minutes later Kent State led the whole first half and went into halftime up 25-23.
The second half was more back and forth with the biggest lead being four by the Golden Flashes at the 4:25 mark on a jumper by Rodriquez Sherman.
This game was tied 12 times and there were nine lead changes.
A tired acting Miami coach Jermaine Henderson thought his team played hard and just came up short.
“I think we played hard and leave it all out there” he said after the game. The right guy got a shot off but it came up a little short.”
-I mentioned yesterday that Keith Dambrot is a great coach; he is also entertaining to watch during the game. His favorite position on the sidelines is bent over with his hands on his knees; with his tie hanging down like an outfielder waiting for the pitch to be delivered. Sometimes he runs the length of the bench clapping his hands. Bottom line, if you take a look over at the Akron bench there is a good chance Drambot will entertain you.
-Yesterday I ranked Ohio’s dance team as the best looking team in the MAC. Upon further review I would rank Western Michigan’s as number two and Akron’s as number three. There you have it the MAC Hot Dance Team rankings.
-Former Miami great and current Cleveland Cavalier Wally Szczerbiak was in attendance for the Miami/Kent State game sitting in the front row across from the Miami bench.
-The clock crew has had a tough tournament. They have consistently screwed up starting and stopping the clock at the proper time. I hope this is not the crew that works the clock for the Cavs games.