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Archive for March 11th, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017 Postgame recap: Blue Jackets 4 Sabres 3

Columbus Blue Jackets (4) vs. Buffalo Sabres (3)
March 10, 2017 – Nationwide Arena (17,530)
Goal Scorers
Columbus: D. Savard (4), PP – N. Foligno (23), PP – S. Gagner (17), B. Jenner (14)
Buffalo: E. Rodrigues (3), J. Gorges (1), R. Ristolainen (5) 

Goalies
Columbus: S. Bobrovsky (29 Saves, W)
Buffalo: R. Lehner (35 Saves, L)

The Blue Jackets defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 at Nationwide Arena on Friday night.  .

Blue Jackets:
Coach John Tortorella | Nick Foligno | Sam Gagner | Boone Jenner

Sabres:
Coach Dan Bylsma | Jack Eichel | Cody Franson | Josh Gorges

The Columbus Blue Jackets won the game late, but Buffalo was not going be

goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s fourth shutout in a row.

The 4-3 win did allow the CBJ’s All-Star goalie his 36th win of the season, which leads the NHL.

The Jackets have won three straight and seven of their last 10.

Nick Foligno and Sam Gagner had power-play goals, and David Savard also scored for the Blue Jackets,

but the game-winner came

with 5:07 left in regulation from Boone Jenner.

GAME NOTES: Columbus Defenseman Ryan Murray missed his second game because of a lower-body injury. …

Buffalo Forward Kyle Okposo missed his fourth game with a rib injury,

and Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was out for the third straight game with an upper-body injury

. … Gagner has three goals and two assists in the last four games….

Brandon Dubinsky, who got an assist on Savard’s goal, has 15 points in his last 17 games.
The Blue Jackets return to action on Saturday, March 11 (7 p.m. ET) as they visit the Sabres at KeyBank Center.

 

 

POSTGAME INFORMATION PRODUCED, WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS COMMUNICATIONS

 

NHL News for Saturday, March 11, 2017: Loose Pucks, Today’s schedule, Hockey Night in Canada

LOOSE PUCKS
Tomas Tatar (2-1—3) and Gustav Nyquist (0-3—3) each collected three points to help the Red Wings snap Chicago’s franchise-record road win streak at eight games . . . Blackhawks teammates Duncan Keith (900) and Andrew Desjardins (400) each skated in milestone games . . . Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau and Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin were fined $2,000 as supplementary discipline under NHL Rule 64 (Diving/Embellishment) . . . The Blues honored fans Collin Fenton and Jared Grzywacz in a pre-game ceremony for rescuing an 88-year-old woman from a burning home on Sunday night . . . A statue of NHL legend Gordie Howe was unveiled outside the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as part of opening ceremonies unveiling a new NHL Centennial Exhibit.

SNEAK PEEK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Philadelphia @ Boston, 1 p.m., SN360, NHLN-US, NESN, CSN-PH
Nashville @ San Jose, 4 p.m., SN, CSN-CA, FS-TN
Ottawa @ Colorado, 7 p.m., CITY, TVAS, ALT
Calgary @ Winnipeg, 7 p.m., SN
Columbus @ Buffalo, 7 p.m., MSG-B, FS-O
Florida @ Tampa Bay, 7 p.m., SUN, FS-F
Toronto @ Carolina, 7 p.m., CBC, FS-CR
New Jersey @ Arizona, 8 p.m., FS-A PLUS, MSG
NY Islanders @ St. Louis, 8 p.m., NHLN-US, FS-MW, MSG+
Pittsburgh @ Vancouver, 10 p.m., CBC, SN, ROOT
Washington @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., FS-W, CSN-DC+
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FLAMES, SENATORS AIM TO EXTEND STREAKS ON HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Four of 11 games contested today will be part of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, highlighted by the Flames (37-26-4, 78 points) and Senators (38-22-6, 82 points) aiming to extend their respective win streaks. Calgary looks to secure their ninth consecutive victory when they visit Winnipeg to take on the Jets (30-32-6, 66 points), while Ottawa aims to pick up their sixth straight win when they square off with the Avalanche (19-44-3, 41 points) in Denver. In the other two contests, the Maple Leafs (30-22-14, 74 points) visit the Hurricanes (27-27-10, 64 points) at PNC Arena, while the Canucks (28-30-9, 65 points) host the Penguins (42-16-8, 92 points) at Rogers Place.

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE PUBLICATION

NHL scores, game recaps from Friday, March 10, 2017: Bobrovsky, Werenski help CBJ tie franchise season win record

FRIDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
COLUMBUS 4, Buffalo 3
DETROIT 4, Chicago 2
Minnesota 7, FLORIDA 4
ST. LOUIS 4, Anaheim 3
Pittsburgh 3, EDMONTON 2 (SO)

BLUE JACKETS MATCH FRANCHISE RECORD FOR WINS IN A SEASON
Boone Jenner scored the go-ahead goal with 5:07 remaining in regulation to guide the Blue Jackets to their 43rd win of 2016-17 (43-17-6, 92 points), matching their single-season franchise record established in 2013-14 (43-32-7, 93 points).

* The Blue Jackets maintained their hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division and climbed within three points of the League-leading Capitals (44-15-7, 95 points).

Sergei Bobrovsky (29 saves) saw his personal shutout streak end at 182:19, the second-longest run by a goaltender in franchise history (Steve Mason: 199:19 from Dec. 23, 2008 – Jan. 2, 2009). Bobrovsky registered his fourth consecutive victory to improve to 36-13-4 in 2016-17 (2.07 GAA, .930 SV%, 6 SO), extending his career high and franchise record for wins in a season.

* Zach Werenski collected an assist to establish a franchise record for points in a season by a rookie (9-31—40), besting the previous mark set by Rick Nash in 2002-03 (17-22—39).
WILD RALLY TO PAD LEAD ATOP WESTERN CONFERENCE
Facing a 4-3 deficit in the third period, the Wild scored four unanswered goals to improve to 43-17-6 (92 points) this season and open a three-point lead atop the Western Conference and Central Division.

Devan Dubnyk entered the game at the start of the third period and made 11 saves to improve to 36-14-3 this season (2.03 GAA, .932 SV%, 5 SO). His 36 wins in 2016-17 match his career high from 2014-15 and are one shy of the franchise record for most in a season, set by Niklas Backstrom in 2008-09 (37-24-8).

Eric Staal (2-1—3) registered his fourth three-point game of the season to eclipse the 20-goal mark for the 10th time in his NHL career.

PENGUINS, BLUES EXTEND WIN STREAKS
The Penguins (42-16-8, 92 points) and Blues (34-27-5, 73 points) each secured wins to extend their respective win streaks and maintain their grip on playoff positions:

Phil Kessel scored the decisive goal in the shootout to guide the Penguins to their fourth consecutive win, keeping pace with the Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division. Marc-Andre Fleury (40 saves) earned the 374th win of his NHL career to tie John Vanbiesbrouck for 15th on the all-time list. Fleury also ranks third in NHL history with 53 career shootout wins, trailing only Ryan Miller (57) and Henrik Lundqvist (56).

Joel Edmundson scored the first game-winning goal of his NHL career with 19 seconds remaining in regulation to power the Blues to their third consecutive win, maintaining their grip on the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Elias notes that Edmundson became the first Blues player to score a game-winning goal with 19 seconds or less remaining in regulation since Doug Weight (59:58) on March 27, 2003 vs. FLA (2-1 W).

DID YOU KNOW?
Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (1-1—2) opened the scoring 12 seconds into the contest to reach the 30-goal mark for the third consecutive season, becoming the first Blues player to do so since Keith Tkachuk from 2001-02 to 2003-04.

 

GAME RECAPS WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE PUBLICATION

#5 Ohio Northern Women’s Basketball ready for tonight’s NCAA III Elite 8 showdown with Christopher Newport

Ohio Northern Athletics
March 11, 2017

Saturday, Mar. 11, 2017 – 8 pm – ONU Sports Center, Ada, Ohio

NCAA III Tournament Site | Game Notes (.pdf) |

Saturday’s Contest: The No. 5-ranked and undefeated Ohio Northern women’s basketball team reached the Elite 8 of the NCAA Div. III Women’s Basketball tournament for the first time in school history after defeating SUNY Geneseo 72-55 … ONU opened the game on a 21-0 run and jumped out to  25-2 lead after one quarter … Northern led by as many as 31 in the contest … Junior Amy Bullimore posted a game-high 23 points and added 12 rebounds to lead the Polar Bears … Sophomore Tori Wyss scored a career-high 10 points off the bench for Northern, while senior Britt Lauck and sophomore  Jenna Dirksen chipped in nine points each … Lauck is averaging a team-best 14.1 ppg and has team-bests in assists (109) and steals (36) … Lauck currently ranks 15th all-time at ONU with 991 career points … Her .887 FT% is currently a single-season record at Northern … She also ranks third all-time at ONU with 258 assists … Her 109 assists are a single season record at ONU … Bullimore leads the team defensively with 8.2 rebounds per game and 47 blocks … She is tied for ninth all-time at ONU with 610 rebounds and ranks third all-time with 120 blocks … Her .535 career FG% ranks second all-time at ONU … Dirksen currently ranks third on the team with 10.2 ppg, and ranks second on the team in both steals (34) and assists (69) … The Captains enter the contest after mounting a comeback and defeating No. 15-ranked Hope (Mich.) in the Swee t 16 round of the tournament … The Captains trailed by as many as 11 points, before roaring back in the second half to pick up the victory … Sam Porter and Devon Byrd both posted double-doubles to lead CNU … Porter posted 19 points and added 11 boards, while Byrd chipped in 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds … Porter leads the Captains with 13.0 points per contest … She also ranks first on the team with 112 steals … Zhara Tannor currently leads the team with 95 assists.

Ohio Northern Probable Starters:

G – #10 Britt Lauck, Sr. (14.1 ppg, 109 assists)
G – #20 Courtney Cramer, Jr. (6.5 ppg, 36 3-point FG)
G – #31 Jenna Dirksen, So. (10.2 ppg, 34 steals)
F – #30 Amauria Campbell, Sr. (4.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
F – #44 Amy Bullimore, Jr. (13.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg)

ONU Statistical Leaders

Scoring Rebounding 3FGs
Assists Steals
1. Lauck 14.1 1. Bullimore 8.2 1. Lauck 61 1. Lauck 109 1. Lauck 36
2. Bullimore 13.9 2. Campbell 4.6 2. Cramer 36 2. Dirksen 69 2. Dirksen 34
3. Dirksen 10.2 3. Dirksen 4.1 3. Dirksen 26 3. Cramer 61 3. Cramer 27

All-Time Series: Ohio Northern and Christopher Newport (Va.) will meet for the first time in school history in a top-10 matchup in the Elite 8.

ONU head coach Michele Durand: Durand is in her 16th season at ONU with a 275-157 record, a winning percentage of .637 … With the victory over SUNY Geneseo, Durand tied Gayle Lauth as the all-time winningest head coach in Ohio Northern women’s basketball history.

 

GAME PREVIEW WRITTEN BY Tim Glon; COURTESY ONU SPORTS

MAC Basketball title comes down to Akron-Kent State, how fitting!

Follow Akron Basketball on TwitterFacebook and Instagram | Follow Coach Dambrot on Twitter

2017 MAC Tournament Bracket | MAC Tournament Central MAC Tournament Tickets

MAC Championship Game

No. 1 Akron Zips (26-7, 14-4 MAC) vs No. 6 Kent State (21-13, 10-8 MAC)
Saturday, March 11 • Quicken Loans Arena
Cleveland, Ohio • 7:30 p.m.

TV/Video: ESPN2 – Mike Morgan (PxP) and Chris Spatola (Analyst)
Live Stats: GoZips.com/Schedule – Live Stats
Radio: Akron-IMG Sports Network – Steve French (PxP) and Joe Dunn (Analyst) WARF 1350 AM (flagship),  iHeart Radio, TuneIn.com/Akron Zips

Head Coaches

KSU – Rob Senderoff (Albany ’95)
Overall: 121-80 (6th season)
Record at KSU: 121-80 (6th season)
MAC Record: 56-46 (6th season)
MAC Tournament: 1-3 (6th Season)

UA - Keith Dambrot (Akron ’82)
Overall Record:  412-207 (19th season)
Record at Akron:  304-137 (13th season)
MAC Record at Akron: 155-65 (13th Season)
Career MAC Record: 165-89 (15th Season)
MAC Tournament: 27-9 (13th Season)

All-Time Series
Kent State Leads: 74-73 – Dambrot vs. Kent State: 17-15 (17-19  Overall)
Last Meeting: Akron 66, Kent State 56 – March 3, 2017 at the M.A.C. Center

Akron basketball Notes:
•  Akron has won at least 21 games in 12-straight seasons under 13th-year head coach Keith Dambrot, something only a handful of Division I programs have accomplished. In fact, Akron, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, and Ohio State are the only programs to post 11-straight 21-win seasons, and of those five teams, Akron (26-7), Gonzaga (32-1), Kansas (28-4), and Duke (26-8) are the only programs to already accomplish that feat this year – Ohio State (17-15)

•  The Akron Zips secured its fourth all-time Regular-Season MAC Championship after defeating Buffalo, 89-83, on the road at Alumni Arena. In addition, Akron owns the No. 1 Seed for the 2017 MAC Tournament in back-to-back seasons. The Zips have a 59 NCAA RPI and 104 KenPom RPI.

•  Head coach Keith Dambrot became Akron’s All-Time Wins Leader on Jan. 3, with an 89-84 win over Bowling Green. At UA, Dambrot collected 289 wins in 422 games, replacing Russell Beichly’s mark of 288 wins in 432 games (1941-59). Dambrot earned his 300th career win at Akron on Feb. 14 against Toledo.

•  Akron set the all-time longest home winning streak record at James. A. Rhodes Arena with 30 consecutive wins, replacing the 26-game run the Zips made during the 1985-87 seasons under head coach Bob Huggins.  The streak ranked No. 2 in the NCAA. The Zips own a 175-24 (.879) at Rhodes Arena.

•  The Zips rode a 12 game winning streak into Ohio, which ranked fifth in the NCAA. As a result, Akron received five votes in the AP Top 25 poll and one vote in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll  (Week 13 – Jan. 30).

•  As of March 5, UA ranks in the NCAA’s Top 100 in 13-of-32 statistical categories (347 teams), ranking No. 5 in the NCAA for 3-point FG’s made per game (10.5), No. 5 in 3-point FG’s made (324), No. 7 in 3-point FG’s attempted (857), and No. 5  in 3-Point FG Percentage (.378). The Zips also rank No. 49 in Field Goal Percentage (.471), and No. 62 in Scoring Margin (+7.1).

WHAT’S AHEAD
The Akron basketball team will play its ninth MAC Tournament title game in 11 years against six-seeded rival Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday, March 11, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. ESPN2 will televise the game, which is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. Mike Morgan will call the action for ESPN2 while Chris Spatola provides analysis. The Zips finished the regular season 13-2 at home and 7-2 at the JAR in league play, and 7-5 on the road and 7-2 when traveling to a MAC opponent. Akron is 6-0 in neutral site games this season.

Fans can join the action at The Q after visiting the Zips’ official tailgating headquarters, the Corner Alley. The Corner Alley is located at the corner of East 4th and Euclid Ave. in downtown Cleveland. UA students can receive their free ticket courtesy of the AK-Rowdies two hours prior to game time until 30 minutes before tipoff.

Fans can also follow the action on WatchESPN/ESPN3, GoZips.com via Live Stats or by Zips’ radio. The Zips’ radio broadcast will air on the Akron-IMG Sports Network SportsRadio 1350 AM (WARF) in Akron (flagship) with Steve French calling the action and Joe Dunn providing analysis. The pregame show starts 30 minutes prior to the contest. The free audio stream is available at SportsRadio1350.com, iHeart Radio, and TuneIn.com/Akron Zips.

The Akron-Kent State Series
Saturday’s game marks the 148th meeting in series history between Akron and Kent State, and 33rd meeting for a Dambrot coached UA squad. Kent State owns a 74-73 all-time series advantage while Dambrot is 17-15 at Akron and 17-19 overall. The Zips have won 12 of the last 18 meetings and are 41-24 in Akron, posting wins in five of the last seven games at the JAR. Akron is 23-49 all-time at the M.A.C. Center and 3-9 under Dambrot.

Akron and Kent State split the series this season with both teams winning on the road. Kent State claimed the first game, halting Akron’s home-court winning streak at 30 games, with a 70-67 (Feb. 17). Two weeks later (March 3), Akron returned the favor and snapped Kent State’s five-game winning streak with a 66-56 win to end regular season play. Under Dambrot Akron is 8-5 at home, 3-9 on the road, and 5-1 in the MAC tournament (Quicken Loans Arena) against the Golden Flashes.

The Akron-Kent State MAC Tournament History
Akron and Kent State have met in the MAC Tournament seven times, with Akron holding a 5-2 advantage. Under Dambrot, the Zips have defeated the Golden Flashes five times in six meetings. Saturday’s game marks the third time in series history the two teams have played for the MAC Tournament championship, as Akron claimed the title during the 2010-11 season with a 66-65 overtime win, and Kent State won the tournament in 2007-08 (74-55).

The tournament rivalry started during the 1997-98 season with Dan Hipsher leading the Zips into battle. Akron dropped the first meeting, 95-88, and the rivalry did not return to the season finale until 2006-07 season under Dambrot. In that meeting the Zips evened the all-time series with a 61-54 win, but fell in the title game the following season. With Kent leading 2-1, Akron rattled off four consecutive MAC Tournament wins, starting with the 2010-11 championship team. In 2011-12, the two teams met in the semifinal round as Akron posted a 78-74 win. The following season (2012-13), Akron posted a second semifinal win, 62-59. In 2013-14, Akron advance to the xxx round of the tournament without playing Kent State, but in 2014-15 the rivaly was renewed again in the semifinals. Akron won the last MAC Tournament meeting 53-51.

Last Time Out Against The Golden Flashes
The Akron Zips defeated rival Kent State 66-56 at the M.A.C. Center in a Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge showdown on ESPN2 on Friday evening. The Zips earned a valuable half point for the Wagon Wheel Challenge to increase Akron’s lead to 6-3 against Kent State.

With the win, the Zips snapped the Golden Flashes five game winning streak as Akron finished regular season play with a 24-7 overall record and 14-4 in Mid-American Conference play. Kent State finished 18-13 overall and 10-8 in league play, earning a No. 6 seed in next week’s MAC Tournament. The Zips secured the No. 1 seed and MAC Regular-Season Championship on Feb. 25.

Akron used a balanced scoring attack for the season finale win as Jimond Ivey (Cleveland, Ohio) and Isaiah Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) posted double-double performances. Ivey led the squad with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Johnson had 10 points and 10 boards. Noah Robotham (Las Vegas, Nev.) followed as the Zips’ second leading scorer with 12 points, and Daniel Utomi (Houston, Texas) also notched double figures, scoring 10 points. Kwan Cheatham, Jr. (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Antino Jackson (Houston, Texas) added seven points apiece.

Jimmy Hall led the Golden Flashes with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Jaylin Walker and Deon Edwin chipped in 13 points and 12 points, respectively.

Akron shot 41 percent from the field (25-of-61), including a 34.8 percent effort from behind the 3-point arc (8-of-12). The Zips added a 66.7 percent effort from the charity stripe (8-of-23) along with nine assists, six steals, and four blocked shots. Ivey secured a team-high three steals.The battle of the boards was deadlocked at 40 rebounds apiece, while both teams committed nine turnovers each. Kent State shot 33.3 percent from the floor (20-of-60), and Akron’s defense limited the Golden Flashes to shoot just 13.6 percent from deep (3-of-22).

First Time Out Against The Golden Flashes
The Akron Zips 30-game home winning streak came to an end on Friday night as the Zips suffered a 70-67 setback against rival Kent State in front of a sold-out James A. Rhodes Arena crowd. In the first of two games of the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge, the Golden Flashes picked up a valuable half of a point, but Akron Athletics still leads 3.5-2.5.

Isaiah Johnson paced the Zips with 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Daniel Utomi added 16 points off of the bench, while Antino Jackson finished with 10 points. Deon Edwin led the Golden Flashes with a game-high 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Jimmy Hall added 18 points, and Jaylin Walker rounded out the Kent State scoring with 16 points.

For the contest, he Zips shot 42 percent (22-of-53) from the floor and converted 78 percent (18-of-23) of their free throw attempts. The Golden Flashes connected on 43 percent (25-of-58) of their attempts and made 62 percent (13-0f-21) from the charity stripe.

Scouting Kent State
Kent State enters the contest with a three-game MAC Tournament winning streak and 21-13 overall record. The Golden Flashes finished 10-7 in MAC play. The sixth-seeded Golden Flashes defeated No. 11 Central Michigan, 116-106, in an overtime thriller at the M.A.C. Center in the first round of the MAC Tournament.  In Cleveland, Kent State posted back-to-back wins over No. 3 Buffalo, 68-65, and No. 2 Ohio, 68-66. Kent State is 10-6 (4-5 MAC) at home, 7-5 (6-3 MAC) on the road, and 4-2 at neutral sites this season.

Kent State has three players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Jimmy Hall with 18.9 points per outing. He is shooting 51.6 percent from the field (249-of-483) while leading the squad with 10.5 rebounds per game (358), 88 assists, and 45 blocked shots. Jaylin Walker follows with 15.1 points per night on 38.6 percent from the floor (165-of-427) and 33.2 percent from downtown with a team-high 81 triples on 244 attempts. Deon Edwin rounds out the double-digit scoring with 13.1 points per night on 45.6 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 from downtown with a second-best 34 made 3-pointers on 102 attempts. He also adds a second-best 72 assists, a team-best 45 steals with 17 blocked shots. In addition, Jaylin Avery, Mitch Peterson, and Kevin Zabo have all knocked down at least 27 long distance shots. Avery has 33 trifectas with a team-high 40.2 percentage, Peterson is 29.8 percent from deep with 31 made triples, and Zabo made 27 3-pointers with a 30.3 percentage.

Defensively, KSU allows opponents to score 72.5 points a night on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 34.8 percent from downtown with 7.4 made 3-pt FG per game. The Golden Flashes caused 486 turnovers (14.3 tpg) while collecting 223 steals (6.6 stl/g) and 131 blocked shots (3.9 blk/g). On the glass, the Golden Flashes have outrebounded their opponents 1,386-1,175 for a +6.2 margin.

Zips’ Semifinals Win
University of Akron men’s basketball junior Antino Jackson accounted for 11 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, including seven consecutive points in a key stretch late in the contest to propel the Zips to a wire-to-wire 74-70 triumph over Ball State in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Friday, March 10, at Quicken Loans Arena.

Leading by only four, 58-54, Antino Jackson connected on fade-away three pointer with 5:10 remaining to push Akron’s lead to seven, 61-54. Tahjai Teague answered with a triple at the other end to make the score, 61-57, before Antino Jackson delivered a driving lay-up followed by a picturesque up-and-under reverse lay-up to give the Zips a 65-57 advantage at the 3:56 mark.

Antino Jackson‘s 17th point of the evening on the lay-up at the 4:17 mark allowed him to become the 43rd player in Akron men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point scoring plateau and 13th under head coach Keith Dambrot. The Cardinals continued to chip away at their deficit whittling the margin to three, 70-67, following a Taylor Persons triple mark with 37.7 seconds remaining. Akron garnered key free throws from sophomore Jimond Ivey with 31 ticks on the clock, before redshirt freshman Daniel Utomi sealed the victory with a pair of charity tosses with 10 seconds to play.

Antino Jackson shared top scoring honors in the tilt with senior Isaiah Johnson as the Zips’ duo each registered 19-point scoring efforts, while senior Kwan Cheatham, Jr. added 11 points. Teague paced Ball State with a career-high 19 points, while Francis Kiapway and Jeremie Tyler contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Akron concluded its semifinal triumph connecting on nearly 52 percent (.519) of its shots from the floor, including making eight three pointers, three which came in the second half. Ball State posted a 41.9 percent shooting mark, while dialing long distance for 13 three pointers.

The Cardinals outrebounded the Zips, 34-31, including a 9-5 margin on the offensive end. Ivey crafted an all-around effort for Akron pulling down a team-high eight rebounds, while scoring seven points and distributing three assists. Franko House narrowly missed a double-double for Ball State notching a game-high 10 rebounds, while adding nine points.

Zips’ Quarterfinals Win
The top-seeded Zips used a 14-2 run to defeat the eighth-seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles 79-62 as Akron advanced to its 12th-straight MAC Tournamet semifinals. Senior Isaiah Johnson led the Zips’ with his seventh double-double of the season, scoring 24 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. Johnson scored 15 second-half points. Rounding out the double-digit performers for Akron were Noah Robotham and Josh Williams with 19 and 11 points, respectively.

Akron Shot 25-of-55 (.455) from the field, including a 14-of-29 (.485) second-half effort.  Akron connected on 9-of-28 (.321) from downtown and buried 20 free throws on 28 attempts (.714) from the charity stripe. Akron was slightly outrebounded 36-35, but won the turnover battle 10-13. The Zips blocked five shots led by Johnson’s three. Emanuel Olojakpoke had two.

James Thompson IV led the Eagles wit 18 points, while Ray Lee followed with 17 points. Tim Bond and Ty Toney added 11 and 10 points, respectively. EMU shot 21-of-57 (.368) from the field, 3-of-16 (.188) from deep, and 17-of-20 (.850) from the charity stripe.

Back-to-Back MAC Champions
The Akron Zips secured the MAC Regular-Season Championship, No. 1 Seed in the MAC Tournament, and East Division Title on Friday with an 89-83 road win over Buffalo. Akron has captured the regular season or tournament title in six of the last seven seasons. In addition, the Zips were back-to-back regular season champs in 2012 (22-12, 13-3 MAC) and 2013 (26-7, 14-2 MAC), as well as 2016 (23-9, 13-5 MAC) and 2017 (23-6, 13-3 MAC). Akron won the MAC Tournament in 2009 (23-13, 10-6 MAC), 2011 (23-13, 9-7 MAC), and 2013 (26-7, 14-2 MAC). The Zips swept the regular season and tournament titles in 2013, and Akron claimed the East Division title in 2007 (26-7, 13-3 MAC).

The Zips in the MAC
The Zips have posted a 45-21 mark (.682) in the last 66 games against the MAC East dating back to the start of the 2012 league schedule. Akron is 5-1 against the MAC East at the conference tournament during that stretch.  Akron is 98-42 in the regular season against the West Division (.700), including winners of 41 of the last 49 regular-season contests since divisional play began during the 1997-98 season, and 73-25 overall under head coach Keith Dambrot (.745).

Akron is 27-9 in the MAC Tournament under head coach Keith Dambrot, going 21-5 in its last 26 tournament games. Under head coach Keith Dambrot, the Zips have won at least one game in the MAC Tournament every year and have made eight MAC Tournament title game appearances in the last ten seasons with an unprecedented 12-straight semifinal appearances. The Zips’ runs of consecutive title game and semifinal appearances are the longest streaks in MAC history. The Zips are 24-9 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Akron is 49-9 at home in league play since the start of the 2011 MAC schedule (.845). UA has seen a ton of success in league play since the start of the 2004-05 season, and is 155-65 overall (.705), including a 94-16 mark in MAC play at home (.855). The Zips’ 155 wins are the most in the league during that stretch. The Zips have won 75 of their last 102 MAC games (.735).

The Akron Zips finished 14-4 in league play, defeating Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Miami, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, and Northern Illinois before falling to Ohio, and bouncing back with wins over Ball State, Eastern Michigan, and Toledo. The Zips dropped two consecutive games to Kent State and Bowling Green, but went on the road and defeated Buffalo and Kent State before falling at home to Miami.

In league play, Akron averaged 76.8 points per game in the MAC while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 36.7 from long distance with 10.0 made 3-pointers a game. The Zips own a -0.6 margin on the glass, being slightly outrebounded by the competition 604-615. Akron averages 14.8 assists (266), 10.7 turnovers per game (193), 5.8 steals (104), and 3.1 blocked shots (56) in league play.

The Zips won 12 consecutive regular season MAC games, dating back to the 2015-16 season, which was the second longest MAC winning streak in Dambrot’s tenure. The 2006-07 Zips won nine straight games in a single season after dropping the MAC opener to Ohio. However, the 2012-13 Zips won 19-straight games and rattled-off 13 consecutive league games during that run. Kent State owns the MAC regular season consecutive win record (21), and single season record (17-1).

Johnson Named MAC Player of the Year
For the second time in program history, an Akron Zips player earned the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year award as senior center Isaiah Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) claimed the league’s top honor for 2017, the league office announced on Wednesday.

“It’s an honor for Big Dog to win this award with the amount of talent in this league, like Jaaron Simmons, Blake Hamilton, Jimmy Hall, Marcus Keene, and Thomas Wilder just to name a few,” head coach Keith Dambrot said. “It’s a tribute to how much he means to this team. Isaiah has worked hard to get to this point of his career, and has done whatever it takes to make the team better throughout the years.

The 2017 MAC Player of the Year honor comes two days after Johnson was named first team All-MAC. He became the second player in program history to receive the award since Romeo Travis garnered the award in 2007. For the second-straight season, Johnson was named to the first-team All-MAC, and in 2015-16, Johnson earned the MAC’s Sixth Man of the Year award.

Johnson has been the focal point of the Zips’ offense all season, leading Akron to back-to-back MAC regular-season championships.  He leads the top-seeded Zips in nearly every statistical category. Big Dog started all 31 regular-season games, averaging a team-high 16.2 points per game supported by a 63.0 percent shooting from the floor, which ranks first in the MAC and ninth in the NCAA.

Johnson posted six double-double performances and scored in double digits 28-of-31 games, including 13 of the last 14 games. Johnson scored 20-plus points six times this season, including a career-high 33 points on the road against Central Michigan. On that night, Johnson also became the 42nd member of the Zips’ 1,000 Point Club. Johnson has scored 501 points this season, bringing his career total to 1,277.

Johnson also leads the Zips in assists and rebounds. He dishes-out a team-best 2.9 assists per game with 89 total assists. On the glass, Johnson pulls down a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game with 228 total boards, 137 defensive and 91 offensive. In addition, Johnson ranks second in blocked shots with 27, just two shy of the leader Kwan Cheatham, Jr.

Big Dog was named MAC East Player of the Week three times (Nov. 28,  Jan. 16, and Feb. 13) and earned collegesportsmadness.com Madness Mid-American Men’s Basketball Player of the Week twice (Nov. 28). His first player of the week honor came after two stellar performances at the 2016 Savannah Invitational where Johnson earned the tournament’s most valuable player award. In addition, Johnson was named to the 2016 Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational all-tournament team.

Dambrot Earns Second-Straight Coach of the Year Award
The 2016-17 Akron Zips men’s basketball program swept the Mid-American Conference’s top honors, as Zips’ 13th year head coach Keith Dambrot was named the 2017 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year award. In addition, senior center Isaiah Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) was named 2017 Player of the Year. For the second straight season, Dambrot earned the league’s highest coaching honor. He is one of two coaches from Akron to receive the MAC recognition and is the only Zips’ leader to win the award three times (2013, 2016, 2017) – Former Zips’ head coach Dan Hipsher garnered the award in 1998.

Dambrot, who became Akron’s all-time wins leader this season, surpassed his 400th career win and 300th win at Akron en route to guiding the Zips to back-to-back MAC regular-season championships. He led Akron to its fourth title in program history after winning the MAC by three games with a 14-4 league record and 24-7 overall mark. On Jan.3, Dambrot broke Akron’s all-time wins record as the Zips defeated Bowling Green, 89-84, at James A. Rhodes Arena to give Dambrot his 289th win at Akron. It replaced the previous record of 288 held by Russell Beichly, who led the Zips for 19 seasons (1941-59). Dambrot is currently 302-137 at Akron with a 155-65 league record. Dambrot is 410-207 in 19 years as a collegiate coach.

The Zips have won at least one game every year in the MAC Tournament with Dambrot at the helm. Akron is 25-9 all-time under Dambrot, advancing to eight MAC title games in the last 10 seasons and 11-straight semifinal appearances. The Zips’ runs of consecutive title game and semifinal appearances are the longest streaks in MAC history.

In the last 24 tournament games, Akron posted 19 wins, and the Zips are 22-9 at Quicken Loans Arena. In the MAC Tournament, Akron is 5-6 in opening round games and 4-0 under Dambrot. The Zips won their only second round appearance in tournament history under Dambrot before the tournament format changed from a five game maximum to four games.

Akron is 9-3 all-time in quarterfinal games and 9-2 under Dambrot. Dambrot is the only coach in Akron basketball history to lead the Zips to the MAC semifinals, making 11-straight appearances. The Zips are 8-3 all-time in semifinal play and 3-5 in Mac title games.

Three Zips on All-MAC SQUAD
Three Zips earned All-MAC selections, including senior center Isaiah Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio), who was named First-Team All-MAC. Senior forward Kwan Cheatham, Jr. (Cincinnati, Ohio) garnered a Second-Team All-MAC selection, while junior guard Antino Jackson (Houston, Texas) earned Honorable Mention.

For a second-straight season, Johnson was named to the first-team All-MAC and Jackson earned honorable mention honors, while Cheatham made his first appearance as an all-league player, marking 29 All-MAC honorees under Dambrot.

Johnson has dominated the paint all season for the Zips. Big Dog started all 31 games and posted six double-double performances while leading Akron in nearly every statistical category. The 6’10″ senior from Cincinnati averages a team-high 16.2 points per game, scoring double digits in 28-of-31 games this season. He ranks first in the MAC and ninth in the NCAA for field goal percentage, shooting 63 percent from the floor on 189-of-300. He dishes out a team-best 2.9 assists per game with 89 total assists. On the glass, Johnson pulls down a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game with 228 total boards, 137 defensive and 91 offensive. Johnson adds a second-best 27 blocks and owns 14 steals. Johnson was named MAC East Player of the Week three times this season, and also garnered the Savannah Invitational MVP and Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational All-Tournament team honors. In addition, Johnson became Akron’s 42nd member of the 1,000 point club and 12thunder Damb rot. He has scored 501 points this season and 1,277 career.

Cheatham has been the x-factor for the Zips, emerging as one of leaders in all areas of the game. He is second in team scoring with 11.5 points per game, while leading Akron’s efforts from beyond the 3-point arc. Cheatham ranks seventh in the league for 3-pointers made per game (2.2) with a team-high 69 triples. Cheatham knocks down the long distance shot at a 39 percent rate which is 13th best in the MAC. From the field, Cheatham shoots 41.4 percent with 121 made field goals. He leads Akron on the defensive glass, grabbing 179 defensive rebounds en route to a second best 226 total boards (7.3 rebs/g). Cheatham is also the squad’s leading rim protector with a 29 blocked shots while adding 61 assists and 17 steals. Cheatham was named MAC East Player of the Week on January 30, after scoring a career-high 31 points against Buffalo and shooting 10-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc for the week.

Jackson started all 31 games and is third in scoring for the Zips with 11.3 points per game. He is shooting a career-best 44.6 percent from the floor (112-of-251), which includes a personal-high 41.9 percent from downtown (62-of-148). Jackson is 63-of-83 from the charity stripe (.759) and has dished out a second-best 87 assists (2.8 apg), collected 69 rebounds (2.2 rebs/g), and has a second-best 28 steals (0.9 stl/g). Jackson earned MAC East Player of the Week and was named Don Haskins Sun Bowl MVP while landing on the Savannah Invitational All-Tournament team.

Up Next
The Akron basketball team is the No. 1 Seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament and looks to for its fourth NCAA Tournamnet birth in program history. The MAC title game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday,  March 11 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio against No. 6 Kent State. Fans can also follow the action on ESPN2, WatchESPN/ESPN3, GoZips.com via live stats, or by Zips’ radio broadcast on Akron-IMG Sports Network available at SportsRadio1350.com, iHeart Radio, and TuneIn.com/Akron Zips.

 

GAME PREVIEW WRITTEN BY Brian Dennison; COURTESY AKRON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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