Updated Fri, Mar 14, 2014 1:40 pm
Playing for post season life is never easy. It’s even more difficult after playing four games in six days. Ohio couldn’t overcome such a stretch Thursday night when it ran out of gas and fell to Akron 83-77 in the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals.
For the majority of the game, Ohio was a sharp, focused team. Around the eight minute mark in the second half, things started to fall apart for the Bobcats. The team made uncharacteristic, sloppy mistakes, and allowed the Zips to take control of the game.
“We hit an execution wall,” Ohio head coach Jim Christian said. “We had a couple bad turnovers, and we couldn’t get a key stop.”
Ohio finished the game with 13 turnovers, seven of which came in the second half. Turnovers were just one reason for Akron’s second half success as the Bobcats’ struggled to clean up the offensive boards as well. Ohio only gave up eight offensive rebounds in the game, but seven of them came in the second half.
The game began to turn when Reggie McAdams nailed a 3-pointer to bring Akron to within two points at 64-62 with 6:45 left in the half. On Ohio’s ensuing possession, Quincy Diggs stole the ball from Nick Kellogg and converted a layup to tie the game at 64. It was the first time Ohio did not have the lead since the 14:56 mark in the first half.
The Bobcats responded the next possession as Jon Smith grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed Javarez “Bean” Willis 3-pointer and found Nick Kellogg on the 3-point arc. Kellogg gave a head fake that sent his defender flying past him and calmly drained an attempt from deep to give Ohio a 67-64 lead.
Kellogg’s 3-pointer came with 5:09 left in the second half. Ohio’s next points came four minutes and eight seconds later when Kellogg drove baseline and finished a layup. In that time Akron went on an 11-0 run to take control of the momentum and build a 75-67 lead.
“[Akron] had everybody on the team that they needed to step up – step up and make plays,” Christian explained.
That stretch saw Quincy Diggs make the play of the game. Maurice Ndour had come away with a steal and was heading down court when Diggs chased him from behind. Diggs dived and knocked the ball away from Ndour and into Carmelo Betancourt’s hands. Betancourt found Demetrius Treadwell up ahead, who cocked it back with two hands and threw down a dunk that left Akron celebrating and Ohio regrouping with a timeout call.
Diggs had 20 points in the game, and Treadwell had 19.
“That’s when we finally got over the hill,” Diggs explained. “That play right there shows how much heart I have and how much I hate losing.”
Ohio regained its composure when Kellogg finished his baseline layup, but at that point it was already too late for the Bobcats. Akron had built a lead that was too big to overcome with such little time left.
Both teams got out to a hot start and rode that momentum for the entire first half. The Bobcats went into halftime leading 38-33. Ohio attacked the rim early and often in the first half, scoring 24 points in the paint. Kellogg, who finished with a game-high 25 points, made it a point to drive to the rim.
With the loss, Ohio’s run in the MAC Tournament comes to an end. Akron will move on to play Western Michigan in the semifinals Friday. In a season in which Ohio put together comeback after comeback, its season came to an end because its opponent flipped the script and mounted a second half comeback of its own.