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2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Recap: Akron Zips vs. Miami RedHawks

Daniel Utomi’s five three-pointers helped lift the Zips past the RedHawks 74-70.

NCAA Basketball: Akron at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Kieth Dambrot’s “513” nightmare is finally over as the Akron Zips won at Millett Hall for the first time since 2013 against the Miami RedHawks 74-70 on Saturday afternoon. Miami (8-9, 1-3 MAC) was able to win on the boards as it had a 38-33 rebounding advantage, but struggled mightily at the charity stripe with nine missed free throws. Meanwhile, Akron (14-3, 4-0 MAC) stayed perfect in MAC play thanks to its defense as it stole the ball 13 times and and forced 15 RedHawk turnovers.

Akron jumped out to an early 10-2 lead at the 17:48 mark after Jimond Ivey made his presence felt early with a layup, two rebounds, and two assists during the stretch. However, the ‘Hawks slowly chipped away at the deficit for the duration of the half and found themselves only down 42-41 at the intermission. Miami managed to win the battle on the glass 16-11 and were more efficient at the free throw line (5-7 to UA’s 3-8), but the Zips drained nine treys in the first 20 minutes, giving them the tenuous advantage at the half.

The teams traded punches for the majority of the second half and Miami jumped out to a 63-58 edge with 6:24 left in regulation following a Logan McClane tip in, but an 8-0 run from the Zips (which included a three-pointer from Kwan Cheatham Jr.) gave Akron the lead once again. The Red and White knotted things up again as a couple of Michael Weathers free throws and a McClane layup set the score at 66-66. A final 5-0 run with 1:23 remaining put the RedHawks in a bind, as Isaiah Johnson accounted for four of those points. Miami was unable to get the late stops it needed, and UA cruised to a tough road victory.

Akron had four players hit double-figures in scoring with Cheatham’s near double-double of 14 points and nine rebounds while Daniel Utomi hit five from downtown on his way to 15 points. On the other hand, McClane and Weathers had a dreadful day shooting as they went for a combined 10-24 from the field. However, the home team competed with the class of the MAC throughout despite starting three freshmen and had a chance to knock off the Zips late. Both teams didn’t play at their best, so it’ll be interesting to see these teams going forward.

The Zips now have a monster showdown on Tuesday night as they host Ohio at 7 p.m. and the ‘Hawks head west for their rematch with Northern Illinois at that same time.