CLEVELAND – Crystal Bradford scored 13 points with 10 rebounds and Central Michigan showed balance and depth to beat Akron 86-68 on Saturday for its first Mid-American Conference title and NCAA berth since 1984.
The Chippewas (21-11) lost to Eastern Michigan in the title game last year on a basket with 1.5 seconds left. Central Michigan used the heartbreaking loss as motivation, and the Chippewas played a demanding schedule to prepare for March.
They upset top-seeded Toledo in the semifinals and pulled away from the Zips (23-9) in the second half.
Jalisa Olive scored 14 and Niki DiGuilio made four 3-pointers in the final 12 minutes for Central Michigan, which had six players score in double figures.
Hanna Luburgh scored 19 to lead the Zips. MAC Player of the Year Rachel Tecca had 11.