The University of Akron women's basketball team used a dominating first half to put away Buffalo, 77-60, on the road Wednesday in its final game of the regular season.
With the victory, UA improves to 21-8 overall and 12-4 in the Mid-American Conference, marking its best league record in program history. Akron has also claimed its first ever MAC East Division title. This is this first time since 2004-05 that a team other than Bowling Green has won the East.
The Zips will play as the No. 3 seed in the MAC Tournament next week, as the result of a three-team tiebreaker between Ball State, Akron and Central Michigan. Since all three teams finished with identical 12-4 league records, the seeding is decided by winning percentage among the tied teams, thus Ball State (2-1/.667) is the No. 2 seed, Akron (1-1/.500) is the third and Central Michigan (1-2/.333) is the fourth seed.
UA will have a double bye into the tournament's third round at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and play its first game on Thursday, March 14 at 2:30 p.m.
Hanna Luburgh led the way offensively for the Zips with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, including 3-of-4 from long range. Sina King posted her 13th double-double of the season and her second in as many games, tallying 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Rachel Tecca extended her double-figure scoring streak to 28 games with 17 points and six rebounds.
Akron was clicking in all aspects of its game in the first 20 minutes, shooting 50 percent from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. Luburgh had the hot hand from all over the floor, connecting on 7-of-9 from the field and scoring 19 of her points in the opening period.
The Zips shot out to an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes, converting on four straight Buffalo turnovers to open the game. A layup from King at the 14:20 mark put the Zips up by 11, a double-digit lead they would handily maintain for the rest of the night.
UA's smothering half court defense forced UB into 14 turnovers in the first half, while holding the Bulls to just nine field goals.
Akron held its largest lead of the night of 28 at the 14:30 mark of the second half after a King trip to the free throw line.
The Zips end the regular season on a four game winning streak, and have won nine out of their last 10 games