CLEVELAND (AP) — Xavier Ford scored 17 points with 11 rebounds and Buffalo overcame a foul-plagued performance by Mid-American Conference player of the year Justin Moss to beat Akron 68-59 on Friday night in the tournament semifinals.
The second-seeded Bulls (22-9) will face top-seeded Central Michigan in the championship for the MAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Chippewas won both meetings in the regular season.
Buffalo has never been in the NCAA field, and they’ll likely need more to get there from Moss, who scored just 5 points — 13 below his average — and sat out the final few minutes with four fouls.
Jake Kretzer scored 12 points to lead the Zips (21-14), who got within four in the final two minutes but couldn’t get a defensive stop. Akron appeared in its 10th straight semifinal.
With Moss unable to get going in the first half, Akron built an early lead before the Bulls charged back and used a 13-0 run to help take a 33-23 halftime lead.
The first 20 minutes were tense and tenacious and included Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley getting slapped with a technical foul.