Miami falls to Akron in MAC Quarterfinals

By: Jack Mueller 

Miami’s 2024 basketball season came to a close on Thursday, as the RedHawks fell to the Akron Zips in the MAC Tournament quarterfinal by a score of 75-63. 

Enrique Freeman was the star of the show for Akron. The forward continued his fine season with a 30 point, 12 rebound performance, dominating the paint for the Zips. Ali Ali served as a solid second option, putting up 14 points of his own, but everything was going through Freeman and Miami struggled to keep up. 

In their final collegiate games, Darweshi Hunter and Anderson Mirambeaux did all they could to keep Miami in the game. The senior duo combined for 33 points on 50% from the field. As they have been all season, the pair were the spark plugs for a Miami offense that just couldn’t keep up with Akron in the second half. 

Miami started the first half strong, and it looked like Akron was going to be on upset watch for most of the first period. A three by Anderson Mirambeaux gave the RedHawks a nine point advantage within the first five minutes. Just six minutes later though, Enrique Freeman would get to the rim for a dunk to shrink the lead to just three. Two more buckets from Freeman, combined with some Miami misses, sent the Zips into the break with a two point lead. 

In almost a mirror image of the first half, Akron jumped out to a nine point lead of their own to start the second period. However unlike the Zips, Miami couldn’t find a way to close the gap. A mid-range jumper by Darweshi Hunter brought the RedHawks within seven, but that would be as close as they would get as Akron would hold a double-digit lead for almost the entire second half. 

Akron advances to face Ohio University in the semi finals, while Miami will regroup and re-evaluate before coming back for the 2024-2025 season. Miami ends the season 15-17, their most wins in a season since 2018-’19, and 9 conference wins, their most since 2020. 

Looking Forward

Losing Darweshi Hunter, Anderson Mirambeaux, and Bryce Bultman will without a doubt hurt the RedHawks, as the three elder statesmen were so vital to the teams success this season. However, Head Coach Travis Steele has to be excited about his returning crop of young players that will now have a year of MAC experience under their belt. 

Eian Elmer was the most consistent of the five freshmen that Steele gave playing time to this year. He was rewarded for his efforts with an All-MAC freshman team selection after a 7.0 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game season. Alongside him will be the pair of freshmen guards, Evan Ipsaro and Mekhi Cooper, who both showed flashes of brilliance at times during the season, even without the consistency of Elmer. 7'1 center Reece Potter also showed flashes of potential, showcasing a solid offensive game and size in the paint that Miami will need without Mirambeaux. Jackson Kotecki did not see the floor often, but when he did he looked like he has the potential to be a valuable asset next season. 

Guards Bradley Dean and Ryan Mabrey both have eligibility remaining, and will be valuable assets for Steele come next year. As will Jaquel Morris, who served as a valuable defensive presence off the bench for the RedHawks. Of course, all of these players returning are subject to the transfer portal and if they decide to stay or move to another school. 

Highly rated recruit Brant Byers will join Steele’s team next year after redshirting his first season. The 6’8 wing will provide size on the perimeter that Steele and Miami should be excited about. Byers will be joined by 3-star recruit, 6’2” point guard Luke Skaljac out of Broadview Heights, Ohio. 

Fans of the RedHawks will get more clarity about what their team will look like in the coming months. However on paper Coach Steele will have a deep roster ready to build off the successes of the 2024 season. 

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