The 4/5 seed game in any tournament is typically meant to be the most even—and exciting—matchup, and the battle between the fourth-seeded Akron Zips and the fifth-seeded Buffalo Bulls didn’t disappoint in Thursday’s second Mid-American Conference Men;s Basketball quarterfinal game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Zips became the second higher-seeded team of the day to survive a potential game-winning three-pointer to win the game and advance to the semifinals, as Ronaldo Segu’s three-point attempt to beat the buzzer fell just short, securing a 70-68 win for Akron.
The game featured nine lead changes and 10 ties, with one of those ties at the half at 32-32. About midway through the second half, the Zips got out to their biggest lead of the game at 57-47 with 10:03 to play. The Bulls didn’t go away, fighting back to tie the game again at 62-all, thanks to a four-point play and a three-pointer by Keishawn Brewton on back-to-back possessions with under five minutes to play.
The Bulls took the lead, 67-64 on a Jeenathan Williams layup with 1:26 remaining. But it was all Zips the final minute of the game. Sophomore Greg Trimble came up big for the Zips, hitting four clutch free throws in the final minute. The Zips lead was 70-68 with just four seconds left when the Bulls’ attempt to tie the game from three-point range went awry.
Ali Ali led the Zips in scoring with 19, while teammates Xavier Castaneda and Michael Wynn added 15 and 14 respectively. Williams led the Bulls with 17 points. The Zips shot the ball well in this game, shooting 44 percent from the field, 53 percent from three-point range and 81 percent from the free throw line.
The Zips improve to 22-9 on the season and will advance to play #1 seeded Toledo on Friday evening. Buffalo drops to 19-11 and will wait to see if they play in the postseason.