MAC MBB TMNT Quarterfinals: Castaneda shines as Zips dominate Bulls in lopsided 101-77 win

Artie Abrego, Sports Reporter, Falcon Media Sports Network

The Akron Zips defeated the Buffalo Bulls in the quarterfinal of the MAC Men’s Tournament by a final score of 101-77. 

 The Zips opened the first half with a seven-point run. Enrique Freeman accounted for four of these seven points during the scoring streak. 

After Akron’s Xavier Castaneda hit two free throws, the Zips scored their 45th point of the game before the end of the half. Akron went into the half up a comfortable 14 points, leading Buffalo 45-31.  

Castaneda led the Zips with 14 points, going 7-7 on the free throw line. On the Buffalo side, forward LaQuill Hardnett led the team with 12 points, also leading the team with seven rebounds.  

The second half was dominated even more by the Zips, winning 101-77, the lone triple digit scoring performance so far in both tournaments.

Akron’s offense was lights out, shooting an impressive 59% from the field goal range and 52% from the three-point line. The Zips also registered 18 assists. 

Buffalo as a team shot 26-66 overall from the field goal range, leading to a 39% shooting percentage overall for the game.  

Castaneda, the MAC’s leader in points per game, finished with 31 points, six rebounds, and four assists. The senior shot 9-15 from the field and made six three-pointers. 

Freeman finished with 19 points on 8-10 shooting, also adding a team-high seven rebounds.  

 For the Bulls, junior guard Zid Powell came off the bench to score a team-high 25 points on 10-17 shooting.  

 Akron head coach John Groce discussed his team’s mindset heading into the tournament postgame.  

 “These guys are such a special group,” Groce said. “We took two days off after Friday’s game, and they came back, and you can just look in their eyes and tell their care factor was high. They wanted to play, wanted to compete, and were excited for the tournament.” 

 The Zips will advance to the tournament’s semifinals to face the Kent State Golden Flashes on Friday, starting at 7:30 pm.