Zips fans headed home early Wednesday night after watching their University of Akron basketball team (13-5, 3-1 MAC) dismantle the Miami University RedHawks 69-49 for an easy MAC victory.
“Some of it is just us doing things together,” Miami Head Coach Charlie Coles said. “This has been one of my hardest teams ever in trying to connect things. We have two seniors and it’s tough for them to lead when they aren’t playing well. The biggest mental thing is if you look at our record. We are worried about being bad when we should be worried about playing as good as we can play.”
The RedHawks (5-12, 2-2 MAC) were dominated for 40 minutes and the Rhodes Arena rims looked to have lids on them every time they attempted a jump shot resulting in a 32 percent shooting night including 2-16 from behind the arc. Seven-foot freshman Zeke Marshall also threw a wrench in ‘Hawk hopes and could not be defended down low.
It took the Zips 20 seconds to take a lead that would later pulsate to 24 points and allow them to coast for the remainder of the contest.
“They were just way more experienced and outsmarted us,” guard Kenny Hayes said. “I think we are alright. We just have to come into practice tomorrow and put this game behind us. We have to win this game Saturday to put as at 2-3 going into the west. I think that this win could build some momentum. Akron by far is the best team in the MAC.”
The ‘Hawks kept it close until things began to fall apart midway through the first half. With the game at 10-9 the Red and White had the enemy in sight, but the Zips woke up the scorekeeper with a 20-7 run in the final eight minutes of the half and sent the RedHawks to the locker room facing a 38-20 deficit.
“I thought we had momentum and I thought that momentum would be like glue for us,” Coles said. “I knew it would be tough playing up here this time of the year but thought we were going to play our hearts out and we didn’t. I spent 20 seconds in the locker room and said guys were not going to talk about this. We have to get ready for Bowling Green.”
Zips forward Chris McKnight kept the rock in the second half and led all scorers with 18 points. McKnight also cleaned the glass snatching 13 boards and a double-double.
Behind McKnight the Zips sunk the RedHawk ship a little deeper after coming out of the locker room for the final act.
Seniors Kenny Hayes and Adam Fletcher led the Red and White. Hayes chipped in 15 points while Fletcher notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“We have to continue to get better and take care of it at home,” Hayes said. “We haven’t won a road game yet but we can’t afford to lose a home game as well. We have to keep fighting.”