Men’s basketball fell to Akron Saturday, 82-74, despite a career night from Blake Hibbitts.
Hibbitts, who came into the game averaging 8.6 points, shot 7-for-11 from the floor to finish with a career-high 21 points.
“You have to admire not only the job Akron is doing this year, but what they have become as a program,” said head coach Keno Davis. “Each and every year, you are going to talk about the top teams in this league, and you are going to talk about Akron. The success they have had is something we are trying to emulate.”
Defensive rebounding came back to hurt the Chippewas as Akron grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and scored 16 second-chance points. Akron’s 6-foot-7 Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell dominated the post with 14 rebounds and 15 points.
“We are going against some pretty good inside teams,” Davis said. “We’ve had a stretch where our lack of size and strength inside doesn’t match up well with the teams we are going against.”
Where CMU lacks size, Davis said his team needs to adjust defensively.
“Part of that is not having the weapons to be able to be as competitive physically,” Davis said. “We’ve got to continue to work to get better and as a coaching staff, to come up with some defensive schemes that can hide some of our weaknesses inside.”
CMU was able to stay with Akron for most of the first half. The Chippewas took a 34-26 lead with 4:36 remaining before halftime, but Akron had other plans. Senior Quincy Diggs hit two 3-pointers, including one with three seconds remaining in the half to take a 41-36 lead. Diggs led the Zips with 19 points and four steals.
The Chippewas mounted a second half comeback as Hibbitts scored eight points in about two minutes.
“I’m always confident in my shot,” Hibbitts said. “When you make one, the next one gets a little bit easier and I was lucky enough to hit the first one.”
The Chippewas got their biggest second-half lead after sophomore Chris Fowler converted a 3-point play to push the lead to 55-51. Fowler finished with 19 points and five assists.
Akron finished off the game when it went on a 12-1 run minutes later to ensure the Chippewas would stay winless in conference play.
“The last few games have had a similar theme,” Hibbitts said. “We’ve been there in the first half and in the second half we give up a run. We need to not give up those runs and get ahead every once and awhile.”
Though the Chippewas have lost six-straight games and are the only team in the Mid-American Conference without a conference win, Davis remains positive.
“The thing that keeps most optimistic about this year’s team is there is so much room for improvement,” he said. “With such a young team and so much room for improvement, we are not getting beat by 20 or 30 points, we are in two or three possession games. If we improve a little bit, we will start winning games. If we improve a lot, we could be one of the better teams in the upper division this year.”