AKRON, Ohio — Senior Quincy Diggs, a 6-foot-6 forward, led a second-half comeback by Akron that carried the Zips to an 83-71 victory over the University at Buffalo in their Mid-American Conference men’s basketball showdown Tuesday night at James E. Rhodes Arena.
Diggs, who had 16 second-half points, scored 11 of his 25 over a span of 10:42 when the Zips outscored UB 26-8 to take command. After trailing by five, Akron shot to a 71-58 lead with 3:16 to play and finished it off at the free-throw line.
A 20-5 run gave Akron a 24-10 lead in the first half but UB came back with a 14-0 rally of their own to narrow the gap. Akron led by 35-30 at the half, outscoring the Bulls 15-0 from three-point range. UB was 0 for 8 from beyond the three-point arc in the opening 20 minutes.
“We played as bad as you could possibly play at times in the first half and still we were down just five points,” said UB coach Bobby Hurley.
After the hot start to the second half, though, the Bulls fell back again.
“It was almost like we got tired,” Hurley said. “We’ve been playing well lately in all the effort categories, but tonight not so well. … We’ll bounce back.”
Akron shot 51.8 percent for the game (29-56, including 8 of 21 threes) and outrebounded UB 36-28. The Zips shot 60.9 percent in the second half (14 of 23).
UB moved to a 50-45 lead in the second before the Diggs and the Zips began their final charge.
Joshua Freelove led UB with 17 points, including four three-pointers. Javon McCrea had 15 points.
The outcome prevented the Bulls (18-9, 12-5 MAC) from clinching the MAC East championship outright. Akron (19-11, 11-6 MAC) is a half-game behind UB with each having one regular season game to play.
Also, combined with wins by Western Michigan over Northern Illinois (61-56) and Toledo over Central Michigan (73-69) it left UB tied with WMU and Toledo in the battle for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
UB women’s team (16-11, 9-7 MAC) will try to move closer to clinching the No. 4 seed for the MAC Tournament tonight when they host Akron (19-8, 13-3) at Alumni Arena (TWSN, Radio 1270 AM, 7 p.m.). The Bulls own a one-game lead over Toledo (8-8) and Western Michigan (8-8) with two conference games to play. Western Michigan plays at Central Michigan and Toledo will be home to Eastern Michigan tonight.
Akron, which has won its last 12 games, and UB staged a wild shootout in their first meeting with the Zips winning, 101-92, on Feb. 2.