CLEVELAND - Third time's the charm.
The University of Akron defeated the University at Buffalo 65-53 Saturday night to claim the school's first Mid-American Conference men's basketball Tournament Championship after losing the past two seasons in the title game.
The Zips (23-12, 10-6 MAC), headed for the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history, were led by sophomore forward Brett McKnight's game-high 16 points, a game-high-tying two steals and two assists. Three other Akron players had double-digit scoring totals, as junior forward Chris McKnight had 12 points, freshman guard Humpty Hitchens had 10 points and junior guard Darryl Roberts had 10 points.
Senior forward Nate Linhart had six points and a game-best nine rebounds for Akron.
For the Bulls (21-11, 11-5 MAC), who defeated Ball State University 64-52 in Friday night's semifinal matchup, junior guard Calvin Betts had a team-high 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Senior guard/forward Greg Gamble added 11 points and two assists.
Akron out-shot Buffalo 55.4 percent (21-for-38) to 36.4 percent (18-for-49) from the field, including 57.6 percent (8-for-14) to 18.5 percent (3-for-16) from 3-point range.
Buffalo won the battle of the boards by outrebounding Akron 34-27 - including 13 offensive rebounds - but Akron scored 18 points off Buffalo's 15 turnovers.
The MAC All-Tournament Teams were also announced following the game. Bowing Green State University's Nate Miller, Buffalo's Max Boudreau and Akron's Steve McNees, Brett McKnight and Linhart formed the five-man team, and Linhart took home Tournament MVP honors.
Ball State's senior guard Laron Frazier and freshmen center Jarrod Jones were considered by many as candidates for the All Tournament Team.
Check back with bsudailynews.com for updates on the MAC All Tournament Team, as well as the Ball State women's basketball team's hunt for its first-ever MAC Championship and NCAA birth as they play Bowling Green in tomorrow's Championship game at 1 p.m. in Quicken Loans Arena.