Despite playing like the team to beat for most of the game, Ohio was unable to finish the game, falling to Akron 83-77 in the MAC Quarterfinals.
Another stellar effort senior guard Nick Kellogg, who had his second straight 20-point game, wouldn’t be enough as junior forward Demetrius Treadwell’s double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds) and 20 points (6-8 shooting) from senior forward Quincy Diggs were enough to send the Bobcats home from the tournament for the second straight year.
Both teams were shooting the ball well in the first half. Both Ohio and Akron managed to shoot above 50%, but turnovers kept the Bobcats from having a larger lead at the break. At one point, with Ohio leading 22-17, the Bobcats managed to go five straight possessions with out even attempting a shot.
Despite that drought, Akron could only to cut the lead to 2. Guard Bean Willis, who hit a couple of big threes in yesterday’s game, ended the three minute scoring drought with another three-pointer. From that point, Ohio would take control of the first half, leading by as many 10 and going into halftime with a 38-33 advantage.
The second half seemed to go the Bobcats way for the first 11 minutes, holding a 64-56 lead with 8:58 left in the game. Everything seemed to be going Ohio’s way, but then, the fatigue of four games in six days finally settled in.
Akron slowly started to trim the deficit, eventually tying the game at 64 a piece with 5:48 left. Kellogg would hit a three to give the Bobcats a 67-64 lead.
Akron would tie the game back on the next possession after Treadwell scored on an offensive rebound, after Nick Harney split a pair of free throws. From that point on, Akron would take advantage of Ohio’s poor execution, including an 11-0 run to take a 75-67 lead with 1:15 lead in the game, and putting the game out of reach.
“We just started turning the ball over, and we couldn’t hit any shots,” said senior T.J. Hall.
Unlike the last two times these teams met, Akron shot the ball very well from the field, to the tune of 60.9% from the field, including 7-12 from the three-point range. Free throws also favored the Zips, as they shot 34 attempts compared to Ohio’s 11.
“They would have had to play a really good game to beat us, because I know we would come ready to play much better tonight,” said Coach Jim Christian after the game. “I give them credit, they played a really good game and had guys step up when they needed it.”
The biggest play during the final minutes was after an Akron miss, Maurice Ndour grabbed the rebound and dribbling up the court. Right before Ndour was able to pass the ball, Diggs dove from behind, tipped the ball to guard Carmelo Betancourt, who threw the ball to Treadwell on a fast break and finished with a slam dunk, killing any type of momentum for Ohio.
Although was a tough loss for Ohio to have, both for their NCAA Tournament chances and even getting a chance at the NIT, coach Christian noted at the heart and passion of his team.
“This team gave me everything that they had, the whole entire year.”
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the [locker room], and what that tells you is that these guys put their heart and soul into this.”
Ohio will have to wait and see what tournament, if any, they are invited to this Sunday.