The 2011 MAC Tournament semifinals will tip-off at 7 pm ET tonight from The Q in Cleveland, Ohio tonight as #2 Western Michigan takes on the #6 seed Akron Zips.
Western Michigan draws first blood as Whitfield scores a put-back. McNees and Roberts start raining 3-balls and Akron leads 9-6 early before a Marshall dunk and Akron scores 5 straight to take a 11-6 lead. Subs bring Juwon Howard, Jr. for WMU and Brett McKnight for Akron. A foul on Akron sends Whitfield to the line where he hits one and Abreu dunks on the other end. WMU misses on their end and Roberts hits a long two for a 15-7 lead. At the first media timeout it’s Akron 15 - Western Michigan 7.
Respect. Diversity. Integrity. Teamwork. Service. Perseverance. These values guide the U.S. Marines. Oops, I mean the Mid-American Conference.
Akron looking great early on with the hot-shooting. If they do this all night WMU has no chance, so the Broncos better dial up the defense.
14:50 - Western scores the first hoop after the TO and it’s 15-10. Diggs at the line for Akron after the steal where he hits 1-2. More Akron hot shooting and defense with a Marshall block leading to a 3-point play for Diggs and Akron leads 23-10 with 12:38 to play in the half. Now 9-13 from the floor, Akron leads 23-10 with 11:54 in the half.
11:54 - After Howard scores for WMU, Diggs drills a 3-ball for a 26-12 lead. WMU answers scoring 5 straight to cut the lead to 9 as Howard and Whitfield miss opportunities down low to cut into the lead even more. Media timeout and it remains Akron 26, WMU 17.
The scoring has slowed down considerably as with 5:25 to play Akron leads 30-18. Bardo misses two at the line with a shooting form that makes Division III high school bench warmers feel good about themselves. It’s a good thing he is tall. McClanahan from deep makes it 33-18 and WMU calls a TO.
While WMU scores the last bucket of the half, the Akron Zips’ hot-shooting is the story of the first half. Akron has shot over 50% from the field for a 41-27 lead.
Halftime - Akron 41 - Western Michigan 27
Western scores first in the second half making it 41-29 but Cvetinovic answers. Douglas then comes back and hits a 3 for WMU and it is 43-32. A few possession later after a WMU steal Ward scores on the other end and the foul cutting the lead to 9. The FT is no good as it stays 45-36 Akron. Diggs answers then WMU travels and Akron will have the ball up 47-36 with 15:46 to play.
Marshall assists a Cvetinovic layup to make it 51-38 Akron, but on the other end Zeke Marshall gets whistled for his 4th foul with 13:00 left on the clock. It appeared that Marshall had all ball which I am sure has Mr. McKnight screaming “integrity of the game, ref!” It’s 56-42 with 11:13 to play and we have a media timeout.
Akron continues to control this game up 61-48 after a WMU hoop. With 6:46 to play we have a media timeout.
WMU needs to make a run. Hawkins calls a timeout down 11 at 63-52 with just over 5 minutes to play. Akron runs a little clock and Roberts hits a nice jumper. After some sloppy play, WMU keeps the ball down 13 with 4:38 left. Ward gets the lay in and a Akron turnover gives WMU life. Howard can’t finish but Whitfield crashes the offensive board and is fouled. At the line Whitfield hits 1 of 2 and it is 65-55 and WMU gets the ball back after the media timeout.
3:52 - Ward scores making it 65-57 Akron as the crowds get louder. McNees gets inside and answers among the trees, back to a 10-point lead then Diggs fouls out with 3:04 to play. Two FTs and it’s back to 8 points between the two teams. Mcknight air ball and WMU gets it back then draws a foul on the offensive end. Ward gets the roll on the first FT, swish on the second.2:15 to play and Akron throws it away under pressure. Ward no good, gets the rebound then tied up, but WMU keeps it on the possession arrow. 1:59 left.
1:59 - Hawkins calls a timeout. Ward drives to the rim and gets fouled, back to the line where he is 6-9. Ward hits both and has 22 points, the score is 67-63 Akron, 1:54 to play. Akron uncomfortable with the WMU pressure, but McNees finds McClanahan for 3 and WMU misses a quick shot. Douglas then fouls McNees in what looks like an attempted punch and Douglas gets the T. WMU is done and the stupid play seals the deal here. Pure cheap shot by Douglas and he shows an immense amount of immaturity. I hope that Hawkins disciplines his player for this dirty play.
After the dust clears the end result is Akron winning. It is 74-63 as WMU misses and McNees is headed back to the line with 1:02 to play. A lot of possessions, a lot of missed shots followed by Akron free throws. WMU had a chance to cut it to 6 around the 40 second mark but missed their chance. It would not be a Akron MAC Tournament game without a ton of controversy and refs on video screens. Where’s Doug Penno when you need him? Stainbrook sets a moving pick up 11 with 35.6 seconds left and everyone watching this game live and on TV is annoyed as heck. End it already. Somehow WMU kept the ball and Stainbrook scores to make it 77-68. McClanahan hits 2 FT and it’s back to 11 point. A nice block by Zeke Marshall adds salt to the Bronco wound.
Final Score - Akron 79 - Western Michigan 68