Barring a postseason tournament invitation, the Miami RedHawks’ season is over.
The RedHawks went down by double-digits to Akron early in the first half on Monday night and never recovered. The Zips won 80-51 at the James A. Rhodes Arena, knocking Miami out of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The RedHawks hit just 25 percent of their field goal attempts but allowed Akron to make 53 percent on the same looks.
Even though he’s the team’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Nike Sibande had to shoulder much more than his normal share of the offensive load. He dropped 25 of Miami’s 51 points.
Only five other RedHawks scored, with freshman forward Eli McNamara finishing second with eight points. As Miami’s top two scorers on Monday, Sibande and McNamara shot a combined 8-for-28 (28.6 percent) from the field.
Despite winning the tipoff, the RedHawks never held a lead. Akron scored the first bucket of the game on a 3-pointer by junior center Deng Riak.
Miami got on the scoreboard with a layup from sophomore forward Dalonte Brown, but it couldn’t silence the Zips’ offensive groove. Akron went on a 22-8 run to go ahead 25-10 halfway through the first.
The RedHawks collected just 24 points before halftime. They trailed 39-24 at intermission.
Things stayed ugly for the ’Hawks in the second.
After shooting 25 percent in the first, they converted at a slightly higher 27-percent clip in the second period. But Akron’s percentages rose, too, going from 50 to 56 percent in the second.
Miami didn’t record its first assist of the contest until more than eight minutes into the second, when Sibande found senior guard Darrian Ringo for a 3-pointer. Sibande would dish out one more, bringing his team’s game total to two.
The Zips pushed their advantage to a game-high 29 points at the 1:36 mark, and they kept it there to polish off an 80-51 victory.
They advance to face the top-seeded Buffalo Bulls in the MAC quarterfinals on Thursday.
Sibande grabbed 10 rebounds to complete a double-double. He was the only RedHawk to corral more than five boards, but Miami won the rebounding battle 39-34 anyway.
While they attempted 31 free throws, the RedHawks made just 18 of them (58 percent). Akron converted on nine of their 12 shots (75 percent) from the charity stripe.
Miami turned the ball over 16 times and forced 14 Zip turnovers.
Two Zips finished with at least 20 points. Redshirt sophomore guard Loren Cristian Jackson had 25 points, while junior forward Daniel Utomi tallied 20.
Sophomore guard Jalen Adaway, a mainstay in MU head coach Jack Owens’ rotation, missed Monday’s contest with an injury. His minutes were picked up by Sibande (a game-high 37 minutes), McNamara (27) and redshirt sophomore guard Milos Jovic (27).
Jovic had three points on one shot from the field. He turned the ball over five times.
The RedHawks finish with a 15-17 record — two games under .500 for the second consecutive season. Last year, Miami went 16-18 and ended with a loss to Campbell in the College Basketball Invitational.