ASSOCIATED PRESSOhio's D.J. Cooper (5) drives past Akron defender Quincy Diggs in the first half. The Bobcats held off the Zips' late charge to win the Mid-American Conference men's championship.
Associated Press Enlarge
CLEVELAND -- D.J. Cooper scored 23 points and Ohio had to nervously wait through a TV replay in the final seconds before beating Akron 64-63 in the championship of the Mid-American Conference tournament on Saturday night.
Ohio (27-7), which set a school record for wins, crowned its season by getting the MAC's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years.
The Zips (22-11) nearly rallied from eight points down in the final minutes. Akron thought it may have tied it at 64 with 3.1 seconds left on a tipped free throw. But the officials reviewed the videotape at the scorer's table and determined the free throw had dropped in without being touched by anyone.
Cooper was fouled with 2 seconds left. He missed the first free throw, and then intentionally missed the second.
Akron's Quincy Diggs flung a desperation shot from 60 feet that wasn't close.
Alex Abreu led top-seeded Akron with 19 points.
As is almost always the case, the MAC final had some craziness and controversy. This one will be remembered for a free throw Abreu made that he tried to miss.
With Ohio leading 64-61, Abreu went to the line with 3.1 seconds left. The sophomore guard dropped his first attempt to make it 64-62. He intended to miss the second one, hoping to get a rebound and possible tying putback.
He shot it high in the air with backspin, but the ball hit the back of the rim, bounced off the front, and then the back again before dropping in.
When the scoreboard clock showed: Akron 64, Ohio 64, the Zips' fans erupted thinking the intentional miss had been tipped in.
But after a lengthy discussion and several looks at the replay monitor, the officiating crew determined the ball had gone through on its own.
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