CLEVELAND (AP) -- Tim Pollitz scored 22 points, his final two coming on a breakaway dunk in the last second to seal an upset, as Miami of Ohio stunned top-seeded Toledo 58-53 in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament on Friday night.
The RedHawks' redheaded forward, Pollitz went 11-of-12 from the floor and added eight rebounds to send Miami (17-14) into the finals for the first time since 2001.Miami, which hasn't won the MAC tourney since 1997, will play Akron in Saturday's championship for an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. Akron moved to the championship game by beating Kent State 61-54 in the semifinals Friday night.Toledo (19-12), the MAC West champion trying to win its first conference tournament since 1980, closed within 54-50 before Pollitz stripped Rockets guard Justin Ingram and drove for a layup to make it 56-50 with 7.7 seconds left.Kashif Payne hit a tough 3-pointer to bring the Rockets within 56-53, but on Miami's inbounds play, guard Doug Penno found Pollitz open and the 6-foot-6 junior burst down the floor for a dunk that sent Miami's bench and RedHawks fans into a frenzy.Florentino Valencia scored 14 points to lead Toledo, which lost in last year's final to Kent State. The Rockets were hoping to add a tourney title to their trophy case after winning the league crown for the first time in 27 years.Michael Bramos added 16 points and Nathan Peavy 11 for the RedHawks, who shot 57 percent from the field.Toledo's defense -- it finished with 12 steals -- finally began rattling Miami in the second half. The Rockets ate up an 11-point deficit to pull within 43-42, but Pollitz scored six straight points to give the RedHawks a 49-42 lead.Jonathan Amos, though, made two straight steals and baskets as the Rockets closed to 49-48 with 4:19 remaining.Toledo had more chances but couldn't get several inside shots to drop, and the Rockets couldn't stop Pollitz at the other end.The RedHawks shot 60 percent from the floor in their quarterfinal win over Ohio -- their best shooting performance since 1999 -- and they started just as hot against the Rockets, making 9-of-13 at the outset to open a 25-18 lead.Toledo's relentless man-to-man pressure didn't fluster Miami, which ran its offense efficiently and made some tough shots, too, while taking a 10-point lead at the break.Pollitz missed just one of his seven shots and had 12 points for the RedHawks, who shot 61 percent (11-of-18) in the first 20 minutes.