CLEVELAND – Hanna Luburgh was one of five Akron players to score in double figures with 19, but it wasn't enough as the third-seeded Zips fell to fourth-seeded Central Michigan 86-68 on Saturday afternoon in the FirstEnergy Mid-American Conference Tournament championship at Quicken Loans Arena.
The junior made 7-of-15 field goals, was 4-for-4 from the free throw line and grabbed seven rebounds, while Sina King finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds – her 14th double-double of the season. MAC Player of the Year Rachel Tecca and Taylor Ruper each posted 11 points for UA, while Carly Young rounded out the Zips' double-digit scorers with 10 points. Tecca had six rebounds as well.
Luburgh earned a spot on the All-Tournament team for her efforts over the past three days, averaging 24.7 points per game and playing 118 of a possible 120 minutes for Akron in the tournament. She was joined by Tecca in receiving the honor, marking the first time Akron has fielded multiple players on the MAC All-Tournament squad.
Akron (23-9), which was making its first appearance in the league tournament championship game, was down 39-35 at halftime. The Zips shot 13-for-33 from the floor, including a 5-for-10 showing behind the 3-point arc, in the opening period. All 11 of Ruper's points and 12 of Luburgh's came in the opening stanza.
The Zips took their first lead of the game at the 9:50 mark of the first half on a triple from Ruper which gave UA a 19-18 advantage. Akron would grow its lead to as many as six over a two-minute span, courtesy of an 8-0 run. The two teams would endure five tie scores in the back-and-forth final minutes of the first period as the Zips held the most prolific 3-point shooting team in the league to just 2-of-10 from long range.
Central Michigan (21-11) returned in the second half on a mission, taking its largest lead of the game up to that point, 54-44, on a layup by Taylor Johnson with 14 minutes to go and Akron never threatened thereafter.
The loss ends a remarkable tournament run that highlighted a season of new beginnings for Akron women's basketball during a special time for women's athletics as a whole. UA has been celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX throughout the 2012-13 academic year by honoring past and present female student-athletes.
Seventh-year head coach Jodi Kest and the 2013 MAC East Division champions tore down countless school records over the course the season, tallying the most wins in school history. Prior to Saturday, the Zips had won 11 of their last 12 games.