AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips overcame a 10-point first half deficit and used a 25-7 run at the start of the second half -- along with some tight defense -- to defeat the Ball State Cardinals 75-60 Friday night in a battle of 2-0 Mid-American Conference team at Rhodes Arena.
With the victory, Akron (13-3, 3-0 MAC) improved to . . .
“We did a lot of good things in the second half to turn the game around and made some plays.” Zips head coach John Groce said. “It was a real physical game tonight. The games against West Virginia and Louisville were physical and helped us for a game like tonight.”
Senior Xeyrius Williams tied a career high with 23 points and 12 rebounds, leading all scorers in the contest. Junior Loren Cristen Jackson added 17 with eight assists and Senior Tyler Cheese had 13 points.
Senior Tahjai Teague led the Cards with 19 points and 12 rebounds. It was his fifth double-double of the season. Junior Ishmael El-Amin added 17 with two assists.
The first half belonged to the men from Muncie as they used dribble penetration to the basket to get some easy baskets. Ball State owned a 10-point lead, 24-14, at the 7:42 mark after a layup by Teague. He scored 15 points in the opening half, going 6-of-9 from the field, and pulled down eight rebounds.
The Zips fought their way back, using a 13-3 run to tie the game 27-26 at the 1:59 mark when Cheese drove the baseline and scored on a layup. However, BSU got the lead at the 1:06 mark when Teague connected on a three-pointer from the top of the key for a 30-27 lead at halftime.
Neither team shot the ball well in the opening half, Ball State was 12-of-30 from the floor (38.7%) while UA shot just 9-of-30 from the floor for 34 percent. Akron out-rebounded BSU 22-20.
The second half was a totally difference story
Akron used a 13-5 spurt to take the lead (40-35) for good when Williams, who scored 14 in the half, drained a three from the right corner with 17:00 remaining.
Williams, a senior transfer from Dayton, scored 25 on December 5 in a win at Marshall and collected his fifth double double of the season.
When the run ended at the 11:52 mark again on a three by Williams from the right arc, the score was 52-40. Deep into second half, UA shot a phenominal 14-of-17 from the field to build their advantage.
To the credit of the Cardinals, they kept scrapping and closed the deficit to 10 when Teague scored his first points of the second half on a three from the right arc at the 4:56 mark. The senior had just four points over the final 20 minutes.
That would be as close as BSU would get as the Zips pulled away to go remain perfect at home and in MAC play
Statistically, the Zips, fueled by shooting 63 percent in the second half (17-of-27) finished the game at 45.6 percent (26-og-57). BSU finished at 40.4 (23-of-57). Akron dominated the battle of the boards 41-29.
Both teams get back to action on Tuesday, with UA heading to Northern Illinois and Ball State traveling to Eastern Michigan.