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Miami men’s basketball loses opening round of the MAC tournament to the University of Akron Zips

<p>The RedHawks ended their reason with a loss in the MAC tournament against Akron</p>

The RedHawks ended their reason with a loss in the MAC tournament against Akron

The Miami University RedHawks ended their season Thursday afternoon with a 75-63 loss to the University of Akron Zips in the first round of the MAC tournament.

The RedHawks entered the tournament as the seventh seed in the conference, while Akron placed second. 

As he has done all season, senior center Anderson Mirambeaux led Miami in scoring with 17 points, including two three-pointers, followed up by 16 from senior guard Darweshi Hunter. On defense, first-year guard Eian Elmer had two steals, while first-year center Reece Potter had two blocks. 

For the Zips, senior forward Enrique Freeman scored 30 points, shooting 13/16 from the field, along with grabbing 12 rebounds. Senior guard Ali Ali also chipped in 14 points.

The RedHawks started off fast, jumping out to a 24-15 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the first half before the Zips tied the game at 29 with four minutes remaining. Akron took the lead at half 37-35.

To start the second half, the Zips went on a 9-2 run to go up 46-37. The RedHawks cut the lead to seven with 11 minutes left, but never got closer than that. Akron prevailed and will advance to the semifinals on Friday against the Ohio University Bobcats.

The teams were relatively close in almost every statistical category. However, it was rebounding that proved to be the difference, as the Zips outrebounded Miami 44-28, including nine offensive rebounds to the RedHawks’ one. Akron also had 52 points in the paint while Miami only had 30.

With the loss, the RedHawks finished the 2023-2024 season with a 15-17 overall record and a  9-10 record in MAC play. 

Miami had different statistical leaders in every category this season. Hunter led the team in total points at 380. Mirambeaux led the team in points-per-game at 12.7, with Hunter following close behind at 11.7. 

Senior forward Bryce Bultman led in rebounds, pulling in 153 total and 4.8 per game. Also contributing on offense was first-year guard Mekhi Cooper, who led the team in assists with 79.

On the defensive end, Cooper averaged one steal per game for a total of 32 to lead the RedHawks in that category, and sophomore forward Jacquel Morris averaged 1.1 blocks and put up a team-leading 33 over the season.

Despite the team finishing below .500 for the third consecutive season, there is plenty to be  optimistic about over the coming years. The RedHawks had seven first-year players this year out of 15 total, and with how much they contributed to the team's success this year, there is no doubt that they will make their presence felt in the coming seasons.

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As of now, Miami will have two incoming first-years next season: forward Brant Byers from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and guard Luke Skaljac from Brecksville, Ohio. Both players will no doubt play crucial roles next season.

The RedHawks' time is coming, and they will undoubtedly become a force in the MAC very soon.