AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips used a 14-2 run early in the second half to break open a close game and went on to defeat the Ohio University Bobcats 84-68 Tuesday night at Rhodes Arena.
The victory helped Akron (15-3, 5-0 MAC) extend . . .
“It was a good game tonight.” Zips head coach Keith Dambrot said. “We were erratic and sporatic at times (in the first half), but overall this team has a good upside and can play better.”
The loss for Ohio (11-5, 3-2) was its second straight setback after a four-game winning streak and a stretch of six victories in seven games.
“We didn’t defend as well as we could have tonight,” Bobcats head man Saul Phillips said, “We gave them too many layups in the second half – far too many layups.”
Junior Jarron Simmons led all scorers in the contest with 19 points, along four rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Jordan Dartis added 14, while fellow second year player Gavin Block had 10.
The contest projected to be a battle between the two top teams in the Eastern Division. For the first 20 minutes, it lived up to its billing,
However, the visitors from Athens came into the game short-handed as their star, senior Antonio Campbell, missed the game with a foot injury suffered early in the first half of the ‘Cats loss Saturday at home to Eastern Michigan.
Campbell made the trip with the team but sat at the far end of the bench with his foot in a walking boot.
UA began the game strongly, hitting its first three shots from beyond the arc to open an 11-4 lead at the 15:03 mark on a layup close to the basket by Johnson.
Ohio weathered the early storm and fought its way back into the game with a 12-2 run for its first lead. Laster connected on a three from the top of the key to cap the burst. That lead grew to five (29-24), the ‘Cats largest, at the 7:21 mark on a driving layup by Kevin Kaminski.
It was UA’s turn to fight back and that they did, regaining the lead late in the period and extending it to five, 38-3,3 on a three from the top of the arc by Daniel Utomi. Akron held a 38-35 advantage at the break.
The Zips shot an even 50 percent from the field (13-of-26) in the first half, with seven of their baskets coming from beyond the arc. Ohio stayed in the game despite shooting just 42.1 percent from the floor (15-of-35) and held a slight rebound edge, 17-15.
Ohio closed the margin to a single point 38-37 when Block hit a foul line extended jumper early in the second half. However, that would be the closest it would get for the remainder of the game.
The Zips went on a 12-2 run, led by Johnson with six points. Ivey had four, while Cheatham and junior guard Noah Robotham contributed a basket, The UA defense, meanwhile, held Ohio without a point for over three minutes.
When the run was completed, the Akron’s lead grew to double digits and stayed there for the reminder of the game. The largest lead was 22 points, 67-45, after freshman guard Tavian Dunn-Martin connected on a three from the left arc.
Ohio pulled to within 12 at the 4:05 mark, 74-62, when Simmons scored on a jumper from the foul line. From then on, UA pushed the lead back out to 16 in the closing moments before winning by 15. It was UA’s fourth straight victory over the Bobcats in the series and extended UA’s winning streak, currently the third longest streak in Division I behind Kansas and Oregon.
The Zips found the range from the floor in the second half, connecting on 18-of-30 shots -- most of them near the basket. They finished the game at 55.4 percent (31-of-56) and also did well from the charity stripe, going 12-of-14 for the game. In addition, Akron out-rebounded the visitors 19-10 in the second half, winning the battle of the boards, 34-27. Ohio shot a little bit better in the second period, going 15-of-28 from the floor to finish at 44.4 percent over the 40 minutes (28-of-63).
The absence of Campbell, who was averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and was shooting 53 percent from the field, hurt the ‘Cats cause. Akron also limited Kaminski with nine points. The senior transfer from Michigan State was shooting almost 48 percent from three point range. but he went just one-for-three on the evening.
The Zips return to action on Friday night as they host Eastern Michigan, who defeated Western Michigan at home, 86-80. Ohio heads to Northern Illinois Saturday. The Huskies topped Miami 62-58 Tuesday, keeping NIU in a tie with Eastern Michigan atop the Western Division.