Junior guard Antino Jackson earned the Barry Kobren Most Valuable Player Award for leading the Zips to their second tournament title, while senior center Isaiah Johnson was named to the Sun Bowl All-Tournament Team.
In addition, 13th-year head coach . . .
Jackson used two stellar performances to lead the Zips at the Sun Bowl Invitational, scoring a career-high 23 points on Wednesday against UC Irvine and following with 13 points, six assists and four rebounds in the finale. Against UMES, he shot 5-of-12 from the field with three long distance buckets in 32 minutes of work.
For the tournament, Jackson logged 59 minutes, averaging 18 points per game on 56.5 percent shooting from the field (13-of-23). That included a 50.0 percent effort from beyond the 3-point arc (6-of-12). He was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line and averaged 4.5 assists (9) and 4.0 rebounds (8) per game.
Meanwhile, Johnson followed a 12-point, six-rebound tournament-opening performance with his second double-double of the season. He scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed a team-best 13 rebounds. Johnson connected on 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-5 from the charity stripe while dishing out four assists and blocking two shots.
All five starters scored in double figures for the first time since March 10, 2009 as junior Jimond Ivey, senior Kwan Cheatham, Jr., and freshman Tavian Dunn-Martin joined Jackson and Johnson with double-digit scoring performances.
Ivey poured in 13 points with a second-best eight rebounds, while Cheatham and Dunn-Martin tallied 10 points each. It was Dunn-Martin's first career start.
Akron (10-3) and Maryland Eastern Shore (2-12) traded long distance shots to open the game. The Zips struck first as Jackson connected with a three-ball from the corner and, after a UMES triple, he hit another.
The Hawks found the bottom of the net again from long distance and followed with a third trifecta that ended in a four-point play to take a 10-6 advantage. The Hawks pushed the lead to as many as eight points by the 13:10 mark, 18-10, when Akron began to chip away at the lead. Two freshman led the charge.
At 12:43, Dunn-Martin buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key and followed with a second triple the next time down the floor, cutting the deficit in half, 20-16. Freshman center Michael Hughes added a pair of free throws to make it a two-point game before grabbing an offensive rebound and finishing with a put-back to tie the game 20-20 at the midway point.
Sophomore Josh Williams kept the 7-0 run alive by adding three points on one shot attempt, while Jackson capped the 12-0 run with a tip-in to give Akron a 25-20 advantage. Four minutes later, the Hawks tied the game at 27 points apiece, but once again, the Akron offense put together another 7-0 run for a 34-27 lead with 21-seconds remaining.
UMES ended the half with a second four-point play opportunity, but missed the free throw, and Akron took a four-point, 34-30 lead into the locker room.
The second half was all Akron, as the Zips quickly extended the lead to 12 points, 46-34, within the first five minutes. Akron pushed the lead to as many as 20 points before finishing the game with the 16-point margin for the win.
Akron shot 52.6 percent from the floor (30-of-57) and buried 10 long distance shots en route to a 37.0 percent showing from behind the arc. Akron also controlled the glass, outrebounding the Hawks, 45-25, while causing eight turnovers with two steals and four blocked shots.
Eastern Shore finished the game shooting 39.0 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from downtown, and 72.7 percent from the charity stripe. The Hawks were led by Dontae Caldwell's 17 points and seven rebounds, while the team's leading scorer, Bakari Copeland, recorded 15 points.
Akron will enjoy an 11-day break from action before returning to James A. Rhodes Arena for the Mid-American Conference opener against Bowling Green. On Tuesday, January 3, the Zips will look to extend their 23-game home winning streak and assist coach Dambrot to becoming Akron's all-time wins leader. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
(Courtesy of UA Athletics)