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Akron Zips men's basketball team punches ticket to MAC Championship with win over Toledo

Zips Mac Championship
Posted at 9:08 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 22:50:42-05

CLEVELAND — The Akron Zips men's basketball team is headed to the MAC Championship game, punching their ticket into the big game with their 70-62 win over the Toledo Rockets Friday evening.

Playing in the semifinals, the No. 4 Zips had the tough task of taking on the No. 1 Rockets. Headed into the game as underdogs, the Zips took and early lead and never looked back.

Akron maintained their lead throughout the entire contest, boasting their biggest lead of 15 near the end of the first half. Toledo would go on to make some runs to lessen their deficit, with their largest run of 11 points happening early in the second half, but never closed in on the Zips.

Leading the way for Akron was junior Xavier Castaneda, who had an impressive game, putting up a whopping 26 points with four rebounds, a steal and a block to boot.

Sophomore Ali Ali put up 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal of his own, while sophomore Enrique Freeman posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in addition to his two steals.

Sophomore Greg Tribble, who hit the game winning free throws in the quarterfinal matchup against Buffalo Thursday, scored 10 points Friday against the Rockets, and dropped four dimes as well. Mikal Dawson, also a sophomore, had nine points and five boards Friday.

Junior Michael Wynn came up big defensively, notching seven rebounds and two blocked shots.

"You guys never give up. You never give up," University of Akron President Dr. Gary Miller said to the team after their win. "We're very proud of you, there's thousands of people out there proud of you and you're all great young men, I appreciate it."

Friday's win marks Akron's 10th MAC Championship appearance since joining the conference in the 1992-93 season. The last time the Zips were in the finals was in 2017 when they lost to Kent State. Their last finals win came in 2013 when they beat Ohio University.

The Zips move on to face rival Kent State Saturday night, looking to earn a bid into the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

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