CLEVELAND – The top-seeded University of Akron men's basketball team earned its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three years, using a dominating second half performance to defeat second-seeded Ohio 65-46 in the FirstEnergy Mid-American Conference Tournament championship game on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Tournament MVP Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell paced four Zips in double figures with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Treadwell was named to the all-tournament team as well as Zeke Marshall, who finished the night with 10 points and nine boards.
Nick Harney spent 18 minutes at the point guard position and turned in 11 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists in the effort. Chauncey Gilliam connected on 5-of-8 shots from the field for 13 points of his own and added three steals.
The Zips' defense held Ohio (24-9), which entered the contest averaging 35.7 percent accuracy from behind the arc, to a meager 1-of-20 from long range for the game and 18.5 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
Akron (26-6) fell into a hole in the first period, when Ohio compiled what would eventually become a 13-4 run in the early part of the half. The Zips were their own worst enemy during that stretch, shooting just 3-of-11 in the first 10 minutes and committing five turnovers.
UA led 8-6 before the Bobcats scored 10 unanswered points, pounding the paint and taking advantage of Akron's uncharacteristic miscues in the half court set. It was not until Treadwell broke the five-minute drought with a putback at the 11:37 mark that Akron began to chip away.
Harney's dunk in transition with 8:21 on the clock allowed the Zips to gain enough momentum to string together a 9-2 run, highlighted by a long 3-pointer from Jake Kretzer in front of Ohio's bench that cut the deficit to four at 27-23 with just over three minutes to play.
T.J. Hall got a floater to fall at the buzzer to give Ohio a 29-26 advantage at the break. The Bobcats finished the opening stanza shooting 48.1 percent from the field, but showed stretches of over 60 percent efficiency despite a 1-for-8 effort from long range. The Zips connected on 10-of-24 attempts in the first half and out-rebounded the Bobcats, 18-13.
Akron opened the second half on a 14-4 run, taking its first lead since 16:44 of the first half when Treadwell fought his way to the basket for a layup. Chauncey Gilliam marched down the court on the next possession and buried a three to add to the cause.
Carmelo Betancourt stepped in to take a charge from D.J. Cooper at 10:09 to reel in all the energy in the building, and things continued to look up from there.
Harney's 3-point play at the 6:44 mark of the second half all but sealed the victory for the Zips, putting them ahead by their largest margin to that point at 11.
Zips Notebook: Akron is the 18th No. 1 seed to win the MAC tournament ... the last No. 1 seed to win came in 2008, also the last time a team won at least a share of the regular-season title and the MAC Tournament in the same season (Kent State) ... ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot is now 19-6 in the MAC Tournament, including three tournament titles ... Akron's 26 wins ties the school record for wins in a season (1971-72, 2006-07) ... Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell recorded his ninth double-double of the season, including his third-straight ... the 46 points by Ohio was the lowest for an Akron opponent in 33 tournament games.