Hunter's Buzzer Beater Snaps Akron's Conference Win Streak
By: Jack Mueller
Bragging rights belong to Miami’s Travis Steele, whose RedHawks defeated his brother’s Akron team 70-68 on Saturday afternoon at Millett Hall. Miami broke Akron’s undefeated streak to start the MAC season, ending a seven game run. Darweshi Hunter was the hero once again, hitting the game winning jumper with one second left on the clock.
“I hope for our guys that it continues to build their belief. We can compete with anybody, we can beat anybody as long as we’re the most connected team on the floor.” said Steele after the win.
Akron recovered from a five point deficit in the final two minutes to draw level for the first time since early in the first half. Butler transfer Ali Ali got to his spot on the right wing to bring the Zips within two, then senior guard, Greg Tribble, was able to get to the hoop to tie the game. Steele opted not to use a timeout, allowing Hunter to take the ball down the entire court before isolating Ali, pulling up from just inside the arc, and finding the bottom of the cup.
“I just wanted to get some rhythm dribbles and get to a spot and rise up.” said Hunter about his clutch shot.
Hunter’s heroics secured the victory, but it was the play of Anderson Mirambeaux that put Miami in a position to win the game. The senior big man led the ‘Hawks with 19 points off of the bench, providing a paint presence that proved to be vital down the stretch. Miami outscored Akron in the paint by 14, as Mirambeaux’s interior defense prevented the Zips from getting easy looks at the rim.
“They sent the cavalry after him.” said Steele on his center’s impact “He made good decisions overall today.”
Mirambeaux was not alone in his efforts though, as a trio of freshmen stepped up to contribute to the RedHawks fourth conference win. Eian Elmer made a difference on both ends of the floor, recording a monster chasedown block. He missed a wide open look from three on the right wing, but recovered immediately, connecting on a clutch three in the same spot to give Miami a six point lead with five minutes to go. Elmer would end with 13 points and eight boards.
“His work habits have changed a lot since coming to Miami… to have the confidence to shoot that next ball tells me he’s putting in time in the gym,” said Steele about his standout wing.
Evan Ipsaro returned to his early season form with a well rounded, ten point, four assist performance. On the defensive end, Mekhi Cooper continues to be an impact player, registering three steals. This is Cooper’s sixth game with multiple steals this season.
Akron came out of the gate firing, jumping out to an immediate five point lead after connecting on three shots from behind the arc. The Zips led by as many as eight before the game was completely flipped on its head. The RedHawks went on a 25-6 run throughout the second half to go into the break up by nine. Bryce Bultman and Evan Ipsaro were vital, igniting an offense that started slow. The pair combined for 17 points on 55% from the field in the first frame.
Both sides were slow to get going in the second half, but Akron started with a slight edge. The Zips cut the lead to just four after six minutes, but back to back threes by Miami’s Darweshi Hunter and Anderson Mirambeaux gave Miami their first double digit lead of the day. Both teams would trade baskets throughout the second half, but Hunter hit the shot that made all the difference at the end of the game.
Miami improves to .500 in conference play and will travel to Kent State looking to pick up their fifth conference win.