University of Akron head basketball coach John Groce spoke with Sam and Brad Wednesday to talk about the upcoming game tomorrow against Eastern Michigan in the MAC Tournament.
Tipoff is at 9pm at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The University of Akron men's basketball team had to come from behind, but in the end, it was a thrilling victory over Eastern Michigan in the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.
A layup by junior Isaiah Johnson with 26 seconds to go turned out to be the winning score, as the Zips beat the Eagles 65 to 63.
The Zips return to the Q on Friday at 6:30 PM. They'll play in the MAC Semifinals against Bowling Green, which beat Central Michigan by a 62 to 59 score later Thursday.
(University of Akron sports information department, news release) A driving lay-up by junior Isaiah Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) with 26 seconds remaining capped a 21-7 run to end to the game which lifted top-seeded Akron (25-7) to a come-from-behind 65-63 triumph past eighth-seeded Eastern Michigan (18-15) in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Championship on Thursday, March 10, at Quicken Loans Arena.
The victory extends the Zips' streak of reaching the MAC Championship semifinals to 11 consecutive years dating back to the 2005-06 campaign. Akron will battle the winner of the No. 4 Central Michigan/No. 12 Bowling Green game on Friday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m.
The triumph was sealed when the Eagles were whistled for an administrative technical foul with 0.6 seconds remaining for calling a timeout that the squad did not have. Sophomore Noah Robotham (Las Vegas, Nev.) converted the free throw for the final 65-63 margin.
Senior Reggie McAdams (Elida, Ohio) directed Akron's comeback registering a team-high 20-point performance, while also pulling down seven rebounds. Johnson turned in a 19-point, 16-rebound effort to collect his fifth double-double of the season. The 16 rebounds set a new career-high mark for rebounds, surpassing his 15-rebound outing against Coppin State on Dec. 2, 2015. Sophomore Antino Jackson (Houston, Texas) added 11 points to round out the Zips' double-figure scorers.
Raven Lee led three Eagles surpassing the double-digit scoring plateau turning in a game-high 23 points off the bench. James Thompson IV crafted a 15-point, 12-rebound affair, while Willie Magnum IV added 10 points.
Akron finished the tilt shooting 33.9 percent (21-of-62) from the field and connected on nine three pointers. Eastern Michigan attacked the basket at 37.9 percent (22-of-58) and outrebounded the Zips, 44-38, including a five-rebound advantage on the defensive glass.
Akron captured the victory by taking care of the ball as the Zips committed only five turnovers, their lowest mark versus a conference opponent this season.
The Eagles jumped out to the early advantage in the affair assuming a 9-3 lead at the initial media timeout (15:05). The Zips made just one of their first eight shots, a three pointer from McAdams, while Eastern Michigan converted on four of its eight attempts.
Akron found its rhythm out of the timeout making two of its first three shots to cut into the Eagles' lead. The Zips edged to within three, 15-12, on a made triple from freshman Josh Williams (Akron, Ohio) at the 10:57 mark before a basket from Johnson cut the lead to one, 15-14 with 9:51 left in the half.
After Eastern Michigan's first made three pointer of the game, Robothom banked in a triple from the top of the arc to again bring Akron to within one, 18-17.
After denying the Eagles on the defensive end, Jackson stepped to the line and split a pair of free throws to even the affair at 18 at the 6:20 mark.
Fouled on a three-point attempt, Williams toed the stripe for Akron where he made two of three attempts to square the contest for the second time at 20.
A driving back-down lay-up from Johnson gave the Zips the lead back, 24-23, at the 4:16 mark.
After the Eagles scored at the other end to go up, 25-24, McAdams nailed his second rainmaker of the half to give Akron a two-point margin, 27-25.
For the third time in the initial stanza Eastern Michigan was whistled for a foul on a three-point attempt, stepping to the line and hitting all three to lift Akron to a 30-28 lead with 2:31 left before halftime was McAdams.
A steal by Robothom on an outlet pass led to a strong feed to senior Jake Kretzer (Bainbridge, Ohio) at the top of the arc, who found McAdams open in the far corner for his third three pointer of the. McAdams was fouled on the play and made the Eagles pay for the foul hitting the free throw to push the Zips' advantage to 34-32.
Despite holding the advantage for only 2:53 of the initial stanza, 15 first-half points from McAdams sent Akron into the intermission maintaining a 35-32 lead. Lee and Thompson sparked Eastern Michigan with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Akron connected on 36.7 percent of its attempts from the field in the opening 20 minutes, including draining five triples. The Eagles shot nearly 43 percent (.427) itself, while outrebounding the Zips, 20-16.
The Zips made just one of their first 10 shots in the second half as Eastern Michigan opened the final 20 minutes with a 16-3 overall run to assume its largest lead up to that point of the game, 10, 48-38, at the 13:14 mark.
Johnson broke the streak with a driving lay-up with 13:01 remaining to inch Akron to within eight, 48-40.
The Eagles pushed their advantage to 12, 56-44, before Jackson was credited with a basket on a goaltending call at the 8:28 mark that began a 9-0 run Akron run over the next 3:16.
The scoring spree was capped by a fast-break triple from McAdams at the 6:27 mark that forced the Eagles into a timeout with their lead whittled down to three, 56-53.
Jackson again dialed long distance at the 3:16 mark to pull the Zips to within one, 58-57. Eastern Michigan answered with a triple of its own at the other end from Lee.
A pair of free throws from Robothom brought Akron to within two, 61-59.
A key jump ball then went in the Zips' favor with 1:03 remaining allowing the Zips to maintain possession down two.
Robothom then gave Akron its first lead, 62-61, since the start of the second half, with a triple from the top of the arc with 53 seconds remaining.
A pair of free throws by Lee gave Eastern Michigan a 63-62 advantage before Johnson's spinning lay-up with 26 seconds left spun the lead back to Akron for good, 64-63.
Thursday's game marked the 45th meeting in series history between Akron and Eastern Michigan, and 18th meeting for a Dambrot coached Zips' squad. Akron now holds an all-time 25-20 all-time series advantage, while Dambrot is 15-3 at Akron and 18-4 overall. The Zips have won 15 of the last 18 meetings and are 4-0 all-time against Eastern Michigan in the MAC Tournament.