CLEVELAND-– A shaky first year for Akron without longtime head coach Keith Dambrot ended on a sour note as they blew a big second half lead late, to fall to Eastern Michigan, 67-58, in the nightcap of Thursday MAC Action at Quicken Loans Arena.
Akron was a huge underdog coming into the game, but they have been known to play their best basketball every March, so not many in the crowd were shocked when they led 52-35 with only 9 minutes to go. A 17-point lead that late in a college basketball game, is almost impossible to surrender, but Akron found a way.
Over the next 5 minutes, Eastern Michigan showed why they have won 21 games this season as they went on a wild scoring spree to pull within six at 57-51. Akron would only score one more point the rest of the way as Eastern Michigan remained red-hot.
Over the game’s final 5 minutes, Eastern Michigan simply couldn’t miss and finished the contest on a dominant 16-1 run. A 3-pointer by Jordan Nobles at the 3:15 mark tied the game at 57-57, and from there little doubt remained where the rest of the game was going.
Leading the furious comeback for Eastern Michigan was junior forward Elijah Minnie who finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Also fueling the comeback were Tim Bond and Paul Jackson who finished with 15 points each. During the 28-4 run to close it out for Eastern Michigan, it should be noted that Akron failed to score a field goal over the last 6:38
Eastern Michigan now moves on to play Toledo tomorrow night at Quicken Loans Arena in semifinal action.