Circumstances are a little bit similar but significantly different from when the University of Akron and Bowling Green last played.

The Zips will once again be looking to staunch some bleeding. When the Falcons arrived at Rhodes Arena on Jan. 13, UA was mired in a three-game losing streak, not having found any sense of rhythm in the Mid-American Conference schedule.

A last-second shot by Virshon Cotton lifted the Zips to a much-needed 80-78 victory.

Now, the Zips (11-15, 4-10) are coming off a second consecutive loss — 78-68 Saturday to Kent State in a game that was eminently winnable but slipped away in the waning moments — heading into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game at Bowling Green.

UA coach John Groce said he’s been happy with what he’s seen from a team standpoint over the last three games. He said the team is gelling, and this past Saturday was no exception despite the loss, its ninth in a row without a victory this season on the road.

But whether the Zips have come together enough remains to be seen. They defeated the Falcons (16-11, 7-7) in January in no small measure because of the contributions of freshman forward Jaden Sayles, who probably had his best game of the season with 14 points and four rebounds.

Sayles, however, remains unavailable because of a wrist injury suffered in that very game. He’s not returned to the court since. With the Zips also without forward Emmanuel Olojakpoke, it makes the rematch with Bowling Green all the more difficult.

Groce has compensated for the loss of those 6-foot-9 starters with a smaller lineup and by playing more up-tempo. But it’s a near certainty Groce would rather have some size for Round 2 with the Falcons, who feature two big men in Demajeo Wiggins (6-foot-10, 240 pounds) and Derek Koch (6-foot-9, 260 pounds).

They combine to average more than 20 points per game, and could give the Zips fits on both ends of the floor. Putting 6-6 Daniel Utomi and 6-5 Lucas Smith on Wiggins and Koch likely won’t be as effective, so UA figures to have its hands full.

What will Groce do? Fans probably got a look at it this past Saturday when 6-11 freshman forward Mark Kostelac received the start against the Golden Flashes.

Right now, Kostelac isn’t close to polished, but observers can see his potential. For a big man, he hustles, willingly diving to the floor for loose balls. He’s had foul issues, but played 20 minutes against the Flashes after playing nine and seven minutes, respectively, in the two previous games.

“I thought he did a good job of trying to fight as a freshman in his first rivalry game in this environment,” Groce said of Kostelac.

Groce considered that one of the positive aspects of the Kent State game. The hope is that it continues Tuesday in the Stroh Center.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

The University of Akron women’s tennis team beat East Tennessee State 5-2 on Sunday morning at the LaTuchie Tennis Center in Stow.

With a new doubles lineup, the Zips (6-5) claimed the doubles point over the Bucs (3-4). At No. 2 doubles, Luisa Echeverry and Miruna Vasilescu posted a 6-3 win.

At No. 3 doubles, captain Carli Knezevich and Madison Wolfe won 6-1.

Akron softball

Freshman Mikayla Newland earned her first collegiate win with a complete-game, three-hit, 1-0 shutout over Fort Wayne to lead the University of Akron to its first win of the season on the final day of the Black and Gold Tournament in Montgomery, Ala.

The Zips, now 1-8 overall, lost their second game of the day 7-2 to Alabama State.

Cleveland Monsters

The Cleveland Monsters lost 5-3 to Chicago Wolves on Sunday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.

With the loss, the Monsters fell to 17-27-4-3 overall this season and, with a .402 points percentage, remain alone in seventh place in the American Hockey League’s Central Division standings.

The University of Akron women’s basketball lost to Buffalo 85-71 in a Mid-American Conference game Saturday at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena.

The Bulls completed a season sweep of the Zips. Freshman Destiny Perkins scored 17 points to lead UA (8-17, 2-12).

Summer Hemphill scored a game-high 18 for Buffalo (21-4, 12-2).

More basketball

The Kent State women lost their fourth consecutive game, falling 65-59 to Miami at the M.A.C. Center.

Jordan Korinek (St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Megan Carter led Kent State in scoring with 17 points apiece as the Golden Flashes fell to 11-15 overall and 4-10 in the MAC.

Baseball

Sam Houston State pithcer Hayden Wes­neski threw a complete game, beating Kent State 5-1 Saturday in Huntsville, Texas.

Up until the ninth inning, the right-hander allowed only one KSU (1-1) runner to reach second base.

Wesneski (1-0) had streaks of 11 and 10 retired hitters in a row.

Softball

• Akron’s softball record fell to 0-6 with a 5-0 loss to Middle Tennessee State on Saturday in the Black & Gold Tournament in Montgomery, Ala.

• Kent State won twice Saturday in the Battle of the Beach in Conway, S.C. The Golden Flashes shut out Connecticut 10-0 and then defeated Rider 10-8 in extra innings. Kent State improved to 3-1 this season.

KENT: University of Akron men’s basketball coach John Groce said earlier this week he liked the direction his team was headed.

Little probably changed with the Zips’ 78-68 loss Saturday to the archrival Golden Flashes (13-14, 7-7 Mid-American Conference) at the M.A.C. Center. The teams duked it out, as has become typical of UA-KSU games, with the ending remaining in doubt until the final moments.

Ultimately, the Zips (11-15, 4-10) have plenty they can take from the game as they try to build some momentum heading down the stretch run of the season.

Despite their typical fast start — which put the Zips up 15-4 less than five minutes into the game — they again surrendered it down the line.

The difference this time around was that they gritted their teeth and took a 56-51 lead with 6:35 left in the game.

“I think our effort has been pretty good,” Groce said. “I think our attitude is getting closer to where I want it. That part’s made a lot of improvement.”

The development and evolution have come incrementally with each of the last three games.

“We’re playing better,” Groce said. “We fought some demons with effort and attitude being inconsistent in preseason practice, at the beginning of the season and the beginning of league play. It’s encouraging over the last three games to see those areas be significantly better, more consistent and I think it’s the reason why the bulk of the three games we’ve played pretty well.”

In the end, the Zips will be able to feed off their triumvirate of Malcolm Duvivier (27 points, three rebounds), Daniel Utomi (20 points) and Jimond Ivey, even though he struggled through 1-of-11 shooting and scored just five points against the Flashes.

What UA missed was another player stepping up to take advantage of the moment at hand, Groce said. That was the unknown that Kent State had in BJ Duling and Jalen Avery.

“He did a great job of providing them with energy and some baskets and some rebounding and some toughness,” Groce said of Duling.

Avery proved the difference maker in the second half, scoring all 16 of his points in the game’s final 4:47.

“I admired him coming into the game,” Groce said as he rattled off the reasons why. “He just seems like a guy where not too much rattles him … today he made big plays.”

Groce said he expects Duvivier, Utomi and Ivey to continue to lead the way for the rest of the season. Ivey’s play, which included five turnovers, surprised him.

Given the Zips’ youth and injury situation, the team will need those three players to make plenty of noise for the rest of the season.

Fitting in

UA has a large number of players who hadn’t before played against Kent State, but rivalries have a way of taking on a life of their own.

The saltiness certainly was real as at the end of the first half when Kent State’s Adonis De La Rosa and UA’s Eric Parrish each received a technical foul.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

The Kent State University softball team opened the 2018 season with a doubleheader split at the Battle of the Beach on Friday in Conway, S.C.

The Golden Flashes lost the season opener 3-2 to Robert Morris, but rallied in the second game for a 1-0 win over Coastal Carolina.

Sophomore Madi Huck pitched her first career complete game in the second-game shutout. Huck allowed four hits and struck out two for her first win of the season. Freshman Kaitlyn Miller stole third base with two outs in the top of the fifth inning and scored on an error for the Flashes.

Emily Dobbin had an RBI double but also took the loss after allowing three earned runs on six hits in the first game.

The Flashes continue play at the Battle of the Beach on Saturday against Connecticut at 9 a.m. and Rider at 4:30 p.m.

More softball

The University of Akron team could not travel to Montgomery, Ala., in time for Friday’s opening round of the Black and Gold Tournament because of inclement weather.

The Zips’ games against Appalachian State and Alabama State on Friday were canceled, and the Zips instead will begin tournament play Saturday against Middle Tennessee State at noon and against Nicholls State at 5 p.m.

Women’s tennis

The University of Akron lost 5-2 to West Virginia on Friday at the LaTuchie Tennis Center in Stow.

Miruna Vasilescu won the No. 2 singles match 6-0, 7-5, and Luisa Echeverry won the No. 4 singles match to lead the Zips (5-5).

UA plays host to East Tennessee State at 10 a.m. Sunday, and West Virginia plays ETSU on Saturday in Stow.

Never underestimate the power of words in any situation, but particularly in sports.

A week or so after referring to his team as “soft,” University of Akron men’s basketball coach John Groce has reason to have some optimism after its past two games.

Against Central Michigan, the Zips claimed a victory last Saturday. On Tuesday, they lost to Ball State for the second time.

But the sum of those two games might equal something better.

There might not be a better time in the regular season for UA to flip things and reward Groce’s positive thoughts. The Zips take on archrival Kent State at 2 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center.

“They made a lot of progress in the mental and physical effort departments,” Groce said. “Particularly it’s started to click in the past week or so in practice and games and I really respect their effort. We just have to execute a little better.”

Better execution certainly would have served the Zips well against the Cardinals. However, myriad circumstances stacked up against them.

Going in, the Zips knew they would have to contend with Ball State’s equivalent of a collegiate twin towers in Trey Moses and Tahjal Teague, who combined to scored 43 points and grab 23 rebounds. With two big men — Emmanuel Olojakpoke and Jayden Sayles — sidelined for the Zips, they were bound to struggle against the Cardinals duo.

Groce started 6-foot-11, 250-pound freshman forward Mark Kostelac to mitigate some of that size and forward Daniel Utomi has drawn assignments on big men. But Moses and Teague went to work and were able to get both Kostelac and Utomi to foul out of the game.

Still, Groce said he saw enough to appreciate the effort in a 90-77 loss.

“We’ve got their attention right now,” he said. “I really like our effort. I like our attitude. I like the morale in our locker room right now as much as I’ve liked it all year, so we have to figure out a way to help those guys as much as possible.”

That needs to begin on the court immediately against the rival Golden Flashes. That won’t be an easy task for the Zips (11-14, 4-9 MAC), even though the defending MAC Tournament champion Flashes (12-14, 6-7) have been inconsistent.

Saturday will be the first since the 1996-97 season that both teams come into the game with a losing record. UA produced an 8-18 overall record and went 6-12 in the conference, and Kent State was 9-18 and 7-11 in the MAC that season.

UA guards Jimond Ivey and Malcolm Duvivier have recently pointed to the tournament as the opportunity the Zips need. They know they can still play for something. Although that looks unlikely with Buffalo running through the East Division and Toledo pacing the West, stranger things have happened.

Still, the run up to the tournament and generating momentum is just as important. The Zips have to develop some semblance of consistency and now is the time to start. If they’re finally playing the right way, as Groce said he believes, then that’s a start. The next ingredient is an effective game plan, he said.

“We have to figure out how to scheme and how to do a better job for them,” Groce said. “That’s my responsibility and my staff’s responsibility.”

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

Photos: UA falls to Ball State

There was little in the way of drama in the second game between the University of Akron men’s basketball team and Ball State on Tuesday night at Rhodes Arena.

In the first meeting, the Cardinals won in double overtime. On this night, Ball State beat UA 90-77 as a lack of size caught up with the Zips (11-14, 4-9 in Mid-American Conference). Losing two starters (Daniel Utomi and Mark Kostelac) to foul trouble didn’t help the Zips.

Ball State’s two big men — Trey Moses (22 points, 13 rebounds) and Tahjai Teague (21 points, 10 rebounds) — combined for 43 points and 23 rebounds.

UA’s Malcolm Duvivier led all scorers with 26 points.

But it was Moses and Teague who proved unstoppable with each scoring the lion’s share of their points (13 and 14, respectively) in the second half.

The size advantage ultimately translated to easy points on the interior. The Cardinals (17-9, 8-5 in MAC) outscored UA 40-28 in the paint.

The most distinctive advantage came on the glass, where the Cardinals beat the Zips 44-25 and beat them on the offensive boards 13-10.

“Those two guys were big in wearing us out,” UA coach John Groce said. “They do a great job in utilizing both guys.”

That inside game allowed the Cardinals to get open shots from the perimeter.

With Moses and Teague dealing in the paint, Tayler Persons took advantage and added 18 points for the Cardinals.

After Saturday’s win against Central Michigan, which featured an improved defensive effort, Groce bluntly stated that the Zips could not regress in that area. The Cardinals had other ideas, outshooting the Zips 55 percent to 42.

Ball State opened the game with a 7-0 run, but after the slow start and a timeout by Groce, UA regrouped and took control.

The Zips answered with a 13-2 run and extended their lead to 36-25 lead at the 3:58 mark. It helped that the Cardinals felt particularly generous and gifted the Zips with a slew of turnovers. UA turned 11 Ball State turnovers into 20 points before the Cardinals finished the first half strong.

Led by seven points from Moses, Ball State went on a 16-4 run to take a 41-40 halftime lead.

“I thought the end of the first half we self-inflicted some wounds,” Groce said.

Groce acknowledged the letdown, but said that he likes where his team is mentally — more than at any other point in the season. He said it’s up to him and the coaching staff to do a better job preparing the Zips.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips.

The University of Akron men’s basketball team flashed some defense Saturday in a win over Central Michigan.

They’re going to need to again Tuesday at Rhodes Arena against Ball State.

The last time the two teams met, they combined for 217 points in a double-overtime thriller in which Jimond Ivey set a school record by scoring 48 points.

“Game 1 was a fantastic game from a fan’s perspective. It didn’t go our way,” UA coach John Groce said. “We had our chances, and we had a chance to close out in the first overtime.”

It also began the Zips’ four-game slide they ended this past Saturday. After playing their best game in a long time, the Zips (11-13, 4-8 in the Mid-American Conference) will have to continue that against the Cardinals (16-9, 7-5).

It might be asking a lot, given the dearth of big men playing for UA due to illness or injury right now, but they will have to contend with one of the best frontcourts in the MAC in Trey Moses and Tahjal Teague. The two players inflicted their share of damage on the Zips in the teams’ first meeting, scoring 22 and 26 points respectively.

“We understand it will be a battle,” Groce said. “Obviously, it starts with their interior play. We’ve got to compete on the backboard.”

Considering the Zips have been playing smaller lineup because of their frontcourt woes, it could be a tough task, but it is by no means the only one they face.

Point guard Tayler Persons proved to be effective from his spot as well. Not only did he get his teammates involved (the Cardinals shot 55 percent for the game) he added 26 points of his own.

“He’s been great, not just this year but previously as well,” Groce said. “We understand he’s a good player and it will take a great effort by our team to defend him, their shooters and interior play.”

Defensive revival?

The Zips appeared to turn things around defensively Saturday against the Chippewas.

“I thought from a consistency standpoint, from start to finish, we cared about that end at the level we need to,” Groce said. “We were committed at that end. It actually bothered us when we got scored on. Guys cared more about that end of the floor.”

But can they keep it up? Groce said it’s imperative for the team, which he believes can play better defensively, not to go backward.

Getting it together

The Zips spoke among themselves prior to the Central Michigan game in hopes of righting a ship that appeared to be taking on water with the four-game losing streak.

“Everybody just wanted to come in and compete and bounce back,” said Eric Parrish, who led the team in scoring Saturday with 21 points. “That’s what we’ve been talking about. We had a couple of tough losses on the road. We just wanted to come in here and get a win for the home crowd.”

If they’re to have any chance in the MAC Tournament, they’ll have to continue to show that attitude.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

Shaunay Edmonds caught fire and helped carry the University of Akron women’s basketball team to its second Mid-American Conference win of the season, 77-65 at Eastern Michigan on Sunday.

A sophomore guard, Edmonds drained 10-of-17 shots from the field and tied a career high with four 3-pointers en route to a career-high 27 points for the Zips (8-16, 2-11).

Softball

For each run the University of Akron scored, the College of Charleston had an answer as the Zips fell 5-4 in 10 innings on the final day of the Stetson Lead-Off Classic in DeLand, Fla.

UA went 0-5 on the trip south.

Wrestling

Kent State upset No. 16-ranked Central Michigan 21-13 on senior night.

Senior Stephen Suglio pinned national No. 18 Matt Stencel in the second period to score the upset and help the Golden Flashes (12-9) take down the Chippewas.

After falling behind by double digits early, the Kent State women’s basketball team battled back to within one possession several times before going cold and falling 78-65 Saturday to visiting Ohio University.

Senior Jordan Korinek (St. Vincent-St. Mary) recorded her fourth double-double of the season with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Golden Flashes (11-14, 4-9).

Forward McKenna Stephens added 14 points, four assists, five rebounds and three blocked shots.

Softball

The University of Akron lost twice to similar foes on the second day of the Stetson Lead-Off Classic in DeLand, Fla.

The Zips (0-4) lost 4-1 to Kansas in the first game and then fell 10-1 to tournament host Stetson in the second game.

Junior Maddy Clowdus, a transfer from the University of North Dakota, singled to left field in her first plate appearance for the Zips, driving in Jordan Crews in the second inning against Kansas.

In the second game, Laura Lakins drove in Kimberly Rodriguez on a sacrifice fly to right field in the third inning for the Zips’ lone run.

Lakins, Rodriguez, Kayla Wulf and Sydney Jascoe were the only Zips to reach base via a hit as Tori Perkins threw a gem for Stetson (2-2).

Mikayla Newland fell to 0-2 in the circle for Akron.

Track

University of Akron redshirt junior Mackenzie Andrews ran a school-record 4:40.75 in the women’s mile at the Husky Classic on Saturday afternoon.

The effort broke her own school record of 4:42.42 set in January at the Penn State National.

It proved too close for comfort, but the University of Akron men’s basketball team will take its 69-63 Mid-American Conference win over Central Michigan at Rhodes Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Eric Parrish, with a career-high 21 points and nine rebounds, led UA in scoring, including an eight-point burst toward the end of the first half that contributed to the Zips’ slim lead.

It was needed in a game that UA (11-13, 4-8 MAC) nearly tied with a bow and gifted to the Chippewas (15-10, 4-8) with two late-game turnovers.

On one, Central Michigan’s Kevin McKay stole the inbounds pass and dished to David DiLeo for a basket that cut the UA lead to 65-63 with 52 seconds left in the game.

Moments later the Zips, who stopped a four-game losing streak, were called for an over-and-back with 43 seconds left, giving the Chippewas a chance to tie.

After those moments, coach John Groce said he was just trying to get to the next play.

“What do we do next?” he asked. “How do we get to the next play as soon as possible?”

In this case, it was to play defense and hold on for the much-needed win.

That and be thankful that Central Michigan, which leads the MAC in free-throw shooting (81 percent), struggled at the line. The Chippewas shot just 47 percent from the line (10-of-21) for the game.

The Zips do deserve credit for reclaiming some semblance of defense. In their previous four games, the Zips were giving up nearly 50 percent shooting from the floor. Against the Chippewas, it was only 41 percent.

“That was as good a defensive effort as we had all year,” Groce said.

What he liked most was the Zips’ grit. He called it a blue-collar performance with the primary difference from recent games being simple.

“It was effort and attitude,” he said. “We were completely different today. Now we can’t go backward.”

The teams produced what generously can be called an ugly first half. Shooting was suspect by both teams for much of the half. The Zips held, with an occasional assist via a miss on a makeable layup, the Chippewas to 35 percent shooting. The Zips didn’t take full advantage, shooting only 42 percent themselves.

The Zips didn’t allow the game to devolve into one that would allow the Chippewas a double-digit lead Instead, they found their offense in the latter stages of the half and forged a 31-27 halftime lead with an 11-4 run.

With the Zips trailing 23-20, Parrish led way offensively in the final 3:01. Parrish scored eight of the Zips final 11 points, making consecutive 3-pointers and a layup.

Guard Virshon Cotton sat out Saturday’s game in street clothes, serving a one-game suspension. He will be available moving forward.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

Matthew Ludwig finished in second place in the men’s pole vault to lead the University of Akron’s track and field team at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.

Jordan Latimer finished fourth in the men’s long jump, and Jaclyn Siefring placed sixth in the women’s long jump to lead the Zips in Friday’s first round.

The Zips will be led in Saturday’s second round by Lucy Bryan and Abby Helminiak in the women’s pole vault, Cody Stine and Curtis Richardson in the men’s high jump, Ariadna Ramos Gandia in the women’s triple jump and Siefring in the women’s 60-meter hurdles and 200 meters.

Softball

The University of Akron began the 2018 season with a 5-3 loss to Kansas and an 8-0 setback to Stetson at the Stetson Lead-Off Classic in DeLand, Fla.

Kayla Wulf hit a solo home run, Caitlin Gambone had a two-run double and Laura Lakins had a two-run single for the Zips (0-2) in the loss to Kansas. UA pitcher Mikayla Newland allowed four runs in the sixth inning in the complete-game loss.

The Hatters shut down the Zips in the afternoon game behind starting pitcher Jaime Tino, who allowed one hit in the shutout.

Sydney Jascoe had the lone single for the Zips, who struck out six times against Tino.

Starting pitcher Kooper Vertz allowed five runs on six hits through 1⅓ innings in the loss for the Zips.

The Zips play Kansas at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Stetson at 6:30 p.m., and will close out the Lead-Off Classic at noon Sunday against the College of Charleston.

The Cavaliers aren’t the only basketball team in Northeast Ohio that is in a funk.

The University of Akron can certainly identify with how the Cavs were playing. The difference is there are no trades coming to shake up the Zips.

If the Zips want to right their ship, they’ll have to do it from within ­— and to say they’re off course might be an understatement. Losers of four in a row, the Zips continue to struggle. The average point margin for those losses is more than 15 per game and, in the process, they’ve allowed teams to shoot close to 50 percent from the floor in each of them.

Those season-long struggles have put the Zips (10-13, 3-8 Mid-American Conference) in a very unfamiliar spot — tied for last place in the East Division.

“It’s hard. It’s frustrating because I’m a winner and I want to win,” guard Jimond Ivey said Thursday afternoon. “That’s my No. 1 focus, but I knew coming into this year there was going to be ups and downs. Right now, it’s not good. I’m just trying to stay focused, stay with it and help the younger guys.”

Ivey and point guard Malcolm Duvivier were expected to be leaders on a team on which youth is the rule not the exception.

“The worst thing you can do at a time like this is let the losses deter you and stop you from working hard every day,” Duvivier said. “Right now, I’m just trying to keep guys motivated and keep working hard.”

At various points in these most recent games, the Zips looked more than ready to compete, jumping out to double-digit leads in a couple only to watch them dissipate along with the team’s confidence.

On more than a couple of occasions in post-game interviews, coach John Groce referred to the team as “soft.”

“We’re soft physically, but most important we’ve been soft mentally,” Ivey said. “We start the game off strong and pretty much the last three games we started off with a lead and once something goes bad we all just get soft mentally and kind of quit. We start blaming refs. We start blaming each other, including myself.”

Duvivier agreed to a degree.

“Guys have to be tougher at the end of the day,” he said. “I think when we get a lead, every guy’s natural reaction is to relax a little bit and I think we’re a team that can’t relax. We have to keep our foot on the pedal.”

But could the Zips’ issues be a matter of team chemistry?

“Not that there’s a problem with team chemistry, but we just get caught up trying to make savior plays,” Duvivier said. “Once another team goes on a run, we get away from what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Youth can certainly play a role in the elusive factor known as chemistry. Groce has given five freshmen significant playing time either by design or because of injury.

“I think having a lot of freshmen, right now, they’re looking at us losing all of these games and everything and I think it just takes away from their effort of playing hard and stuff,” Ivey said.

Both players said they don’t believe their season, which continues Saturday at Rhodes Arena against Central Michigan, is lost. They point to the only event that matters for getting into the NCAA Tournament, the MAC Tournament, which will be played in Cleveland the second week in March.

“It’s never too late,” Ivey said. “If we just play harder, play more focused and play for each other, I think we can turn it around.”

Duvivier offered a similar assessment.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to four games in March,” he said. “We know we can play with any team in this league. We’ve proven it. We’re right there.”

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

The University of Akron women’s basketball team’s Mid-American Conference losing streak extended to three games Wednesday night with an 84-61 loss to Northern Illinois at Rhodes Arena.

The 23-point win was Northern Illinois’ largest since Nov. 10, 2017, when the Huskies defeated Eastern Illinois by 29.

The Huskies (12-11, 4-8) led wire-to-wire as three players finished in double figures.

Courtney Woods led the way with her seventh double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Destiny Perkins scored 16 points for the Zips (7-16, 1-11).

Kent State women

Buffalo improved to 8-0 at home and continued its best start in program history with an 80-42 win over Kent State on Wednesday.

The Golden Flashes have lost five of their past six road games.

Nine players scored for the balanced Bulls, who improved to 18-4 overall and 9-2 in the MAC.

Center Cassie Oursler led the way with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Buffalo raced to a 25-9 first-quarter lead and led by 18 at the half.

The Flashes did not help their cause with another nine-point effort in the third quarter.

Jordan Korinek (St. Vincent-St. Mary) led all scorers with 22 points for the Flashes (11-13, 4-8), who shot just 21 percent from the floor.

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/High school

Abraham Alce RB 6-0 224 Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee

Eric Bentley DL 6-2 244 Akron/St. Vincent-St. Mary

Gavin Blunt WR 6-2 195 Aurora/Aurora

Daishawn Brimage WR 6-1 195 Akron/East

Reggie Corner Jr. S 5-9 200 Canton/McKinley

Devanier Floyd RB 5-9 200 Akron/East

Vincent Fonte OL 6-4 275 Copley/Copley

Landon Forman OL 6-5 280 Kingfisher, Okla./NE Oklahoma A&M

Rich Hall DB 6-1 175 Pompano Beach, Fla./Coconut Creek

Logan Hawkins DL 6-2 270 Harrison City, Pa./Penn-Trafford

Jalen Hooks S 6-2 170 Warren/Harding

Devin Jordan OL 6-6 250 Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard

Richard Kelly OL 6-3 300 Akron/Archbishop Hoban

Bryce Peterson OL 6-2 285 McKinleyville, Calif./Riverside College

Ben Phillis OL 6-5 300 Washington, Pa./Trinity

Treon Sibley WR 6-0 187 Akron/Coventry

Keyondre White RB 5-10 210 Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard

University of Akron coach Terry Bowden and his staff completed the Zips’ recruiting class of 2018 by adding five more players Wednesday.

The additions bring the class that previously included 12 signees from December’s early signing day to 17, including eight from Northeast Ohio.

In the process, Bowden filled several needs. In all, the Zips signed six offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, three running backs, two safeties, three wide receivers and a defensive back.

What’s noticeable is the Zips continue to attract local talent to their program.

“If you look at the last two and three years including this year, we’re getting the very best local players to come to Akron, and I think that’s beginning to continue to snowball this year,” Bowden said. “We had another year [in] which we’re able to attract local players, and I think that’s got to remain the foundation of our football program.”

Two of the more intriguing local prospects are running back Devanier Floyd and wide receiver Daishawn Brimage, who led East to the City Series championship this past season.

The Zips also signed Treon Sibley, a standout wide receiver from Coventry.

Floyd rushed for 1,031 yards and 14 touchdowns on 103 carries as a senior. For good measure, he claimed the City Series title in the 100 meters as a junior.

Brimage will join his brother, DeAndre, a defensive lineman, on the UA roster. At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, the younger Brimage adds some size to the wide receiver corps.

“Those guys are still in high school and they represent not only talented people, but they’re not talented small people,” Bowden said. “They’re talented guys that are going to be big, physical players in college. … That kind of gives you a chance to play with bigger, more physical people as we got out and try to become a more physical football team.”

That they’re from Akron Public Schools is a bonus. Coach Marques Hayes, a graduate of UA, has done a stellar job of turning the Dragons around in recent years.

“On the field, I think they were two of the most dynamic talents in the state of Ohio this year,” Hayes said of Floyd and Brimage.

Hayes also offered a different perspective on the two players.

“First of all, [the Zips are] getting two outstanding young men off the field,” he said. “We’ve had those two young men since they were freshmen. Character-wise, they’ve been nothing but a pleasure to be around.”

Bowden gave Hayes credit for being able to keep the talent at East, as opposed to going to one of the parochial schools in the area, and creating another place to find players. In turn, UA has benefited because of Hayes’ connection. He used to speak to the team when previous coaches ran the program. It’s a relationship that’s never ended.

But the trail to UA was blazed by running back Jemarulin Suggs and defensive lineman DeAndre Brimage.

“Once you get a best player one year, the best player the next year wants to go,” Bowden said. “I think Akron East has been a lot like St. V. Once you start getting players, young players at those schools see the older players going there, see the older player winning and it begins to snowball.”

Aside from the local recruits, one of the most intriguing players is running back Abraham Alce, a 6-foot, 224-pounder from Immokalee, Fla. That Bowden pulled yet another recruit from the Sunshine State is of little surprise, but Alce is a three-star recruit who had offers from many Mid-American Conference schools and some Power 5 programs.

The University of Akron’s assistant director of football operations is heading to the Southeastern (SEC) Conference.

Bruce Feldman, a reporter for Fox Sports and writer for Sports Illustrated, tweeted that Mark Ouimet will become the new director of football operations at the University of Missouri.

Ouimet has been with UA for six seasons. Before joining the UA staff, he had served as coordinator of recruiting operations at Mississippi State.

The Missouri Tigers finished 7-6 last season.

The University of Akron men’s basketball team remained winless on the road and notched its fourth consecutive loss, a 99-75 thrashing by Ohio University in a Mid-American Conference game Tuesday night at the Convocation Center in Athens.

Ohio guard Jordan Dartis led all scorers with 38 points and was one of five Bobcats to score in double figures.

Forward Daniel Utomi led the Zips (10-13, 3-8 in Mid-American Conference) with 21 points and four rebounds.

For all practical purposes, the game was over at halftime with the Zips trailing by 22 and unable to contain Dartis in any form or fashion.

But the Zips had to contend with a contingent of Bobcats (9-13, 3-8 in MAC) who found scoring easy courtesy of a nonexistent UA defense.

Ohio made 54 percent of its shots (32-of-59) for the game, including 16-of-27 (29 percent) from behind the 3-point line. UA shot 42 percent from the floor (27-of-65) and 23 percent (6-of-26) from behind the 3-point arc. The Zips lost the battle on the boards 38-34 as well. The Bobcats took advantage of 15 UA turnovers and converted them into 20 points.

The modus operandi remained the same for the Zips in the first half as it has been in recent games. They took an early lead only to watch as it slipped away and their opponent went on to dominate.

UA took a 10-2 lead in the opening moments, a run the Bobcats eventually countered, going on a 13-2 run of their own to take a 15-12 lead. From there, behind the freakish scoring of Dartis, who delivered 26 first half points, the Bobcats unleashed a scoring barrage in which they outscored UA 41-22 the rest of the half.

The Zips played as if they left their defense on their practice floor. The Bobcats outshot the Zips 67 percent (18-of-27) to 38 percent in the first half. Ohio also made 9-of-13 3-pointers (69 percent), which also included six from Dartis.

The Kent State women’s golf team kicked off the spring season Tuesday with a win at the Mid-American Conference Match Play Challenge in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

The top-seeded Golden Flashes defeated No. 2 seeded Florida Gulf Coast 3-2 to close out the championship bracket. The Flashes began the day with a 5-0 sweep of Western Michigan and finished the tournament with a 12-3 record in individual matches.

Pimnipa Panthong, Michaela Finn and Chloe Salort each finished 3-0 in the tournament.

The University of Akron defeated Ohio 4-1-1 to finish in fifth place. Allyson Wentworth, Pader Her and Danielle Nicholson each won 4-and-3 in the fifth-place match to lead the Zips. The Zips defeated Bowling Green 4-1 earlier in the day.