March 10, 2011

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CLEVELAND – Despite a valiant effort to overcome a 20-point second-half deficit to force overtime against the Akron Zips, Miami University's men's basketball team was unable to complete the comeback in the second overtime, falling to Akron, 82-75, in double overtime Thursday in the MAC Quarterfinals. Julian Mavunga recorded a double-double with 14 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Miami is now 16-16 on the season, while Akron improves to 21-12 and advances to the semifinals to face Western Michigan Friday.

It was a tale of two halves for the RedHawks as they set a MAC Tournament record for the fewest points in a half with only 10 in the first period. Undaunted, they responded with 53 points in the second half, which tied a MAC Tournament record for most points in a second half.

Miami fell behind 26-10 at the break after hitting only 18.2 percent (4-for-22) of its first half shots. Akron then opened the second half on an 8-4 run to open up its largest lead of 20 points at 34-14 before the RedHawk comeback began at the 15:29 mark.

A Nick Winbush three-pointer that made it 34-17 was the start of the offensive explosion for Miami. Chris McHenry and Orlando Williams would each hit triples of their own while layups from Williams and Jon Harris would help cut into the deficit. Two free throw makes by Allen Roberts finally brought the lead under 10 at 44-35 with 9:48 remaining.

Trailing 46-36 at the 7:46 mark, Williams buried another three-pointer to pull Miami within seven. After Mavunga and Zeke Marshall traded free throws, a 7-0 run by Roberts on two jumpers and a three-pointer made it 50-48 Akron with 4:28 left. Miami finally tied the score for the first time since it was 2-2 on a Winbush layup a minute later. After the Zips answered with a layup, McHenry found Williams open in the corner for his third triple of the game to give the RedHawks their first lead at 55-54.

Akron went on a 6-0 run to take a 60-55 lead with 1:36 to go. On Miami’s next two offensive possessions Mavunga would get the ball down low and force the Zips to foul. He converted on three of the free throws to make it 60-58. After two Akron free throws, McHenry quickly went down the lane to score and make it 62-60 with 18 seconds remaining. Forced to foul, Miami put Brett McKnight on the line. He only made one of the two shots to make it 63-60. With nine seconds remaining, Mavunga found Harris open on the wing and he hit the trey to tie the game. The Zips missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the game went into overtime.

Roberts and McHenry each hit layups as the RedHawks opened up a 68-65 lead in the first overtime. Akron would respond with two layups of its own to retake the advantage at 69-68, but a Harris layup with 1:18 remaining made it 70-69 Miami. After two Zip free throws, Roberts hit his own free throw to make it 71-71 with 39 seconds remaining. Each team got a shot at the win, but after an Akron miss, Harris’ three-pointer was short at the buzzer.

The Zips would open the second overtime with a free throw make to retake the lead. The teams would trade the lead three more times as Mavunga and Roberts each hit layups, the last to give Miami a 75-74 lead with 3:21 remaining. From there fatigue would set in as the RedHawks would miss six free throws down the stretch of the period and not score again. Akron would put the game away when Alex Abreu and Brett McClanahan hit back-to-back three-pointer to give the Zips an 80-75 advantage. Two free throws with 15 seconds remaining would secure the 82-75 victory.

Williams led Miami with 16 points, while Roberts contributed 14. In addition to his double-double, Mavunga recorded a team-high six assists. After shooting only 18 percent in the first half, the RedHawks ended up shooting 40.0 percent (24-for-60) for the game, compared to 36.5 percent (27-for-74) for Akron. The Zips outrebounded Miami, 51-40, for the contest and were led by McClanahan with 20 points.