By Julia Rivera, staff writer

The 12th-seeded Miami University women’s basketball team was knocked out of the Mid-American Conference in the first round after falling 66-52 to fifth-seeded Akron University.

“I thought we came out well,” head coach Cleve Wright said. “I thought we fought hard, thought our effort was good, thought our mentality was good. Overall for game, I thought that our kids fought hard.”

Freshman point guard Leah Purvis gave Miami a 8-4 lead, scoring a layup and two quick 3-pointers. After Akron answered with a triple of its own, sophomore guard Ana Richter and Purvis hit back-to-back shots from behind the arc to make it 14-7 with less than four minutes left in the first quarter. Miami held onto a 14-12 lead going into the second quarter.

The Zips took the lead to start the second, but Purvis responded with her fourth triple of the game. A layup by Purvis and a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Kristen Levering extended the lead to 24-17. Foul trouble limited Purvis to only nine minutes in the second half and kept her off the board the rest of the contest. Akron pulled to within two but sophomore guard Kayla Brown and Purvis each scored to make it a six-point advantage. The Zips closed on a 4-1 run, but the RedHawks took a 29-26 lead into halftime.

Miami came out strong after the break, claiming its largest lead of the game at 35-26 with back-to-back jumpers from freshman forward Molly McDonagh and two free throws from Richter. Miami’s shot went cold but until 2:02 remaining in the quarter, when freshman guard Morgan Horvath ended the streak with a free throw. Akron went on a 20-0 run to take a 46-35 lead.

“We lost some momentum in the third quarter,” Wright said. “That really hurt us. You can’t do that on somebody’s home floor.”

To start the fourth quarter, Akron went on an 8-1 run to take its largest lead at 56-39 with 8:15 to go. Miami cut the deficit to seven when sophomore guard Jazz Smith hit a jumper and a three-pointer and Brown and Levering each made baskets. Akron hit its free throws down the stretch while the RedHawks shot stayed cold, allowing the Zips to escape with a 66-54 win.

Purvis finished 7-of-11 from the field, going 4-of-6 from behind the arc for 18 points. Brown finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal for Miami. McDonagh had six points and nine rebounds.

Junior guard Anita Brown led the Zips with 29 points.

“We need some rest,” Wright said. “We will get in and do some testing in the weight room, but then get some rest. Spring break will be coming up so they will have a chance have some break. Then we need to get in the weight room and start working on our fitness levels.”

Miami finished the season with a 9-21 record, while Akron improves to 18-12 and advances to the MAC quarterfinals.

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