The Zips now have two wins in three tries this season over the Power Five Conferences, which includes the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. Akron (3-1) downed USC, 66-46, on Thursday.
Noah Robotham led the way for the Zips, posting 16 points, six rebounds and two assists. Deji Ibitayo came off the bench to score 15 points, 11 in the first half, while Kwan Cheatham, Jr., finished with 13 points and three blocked shots.
Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 13 points.
After South Carolina scored on its first possession of the game, the Akron defense forced three Gamecock turnovers. The pressure would result in six points as the Zips opened an 8-2 lead heading into the under-16 media timeout (15:51).
Ibitayo gave Akron a 17-10 lead with 9:52 left in the first half after drawing a foul and sinking both free throws. The freebies gave him seven points early on.
South Carolina closed the gap to 19-18 at the 6:48 mark, but Akron pushed its advantage back to six by the under-4 media timeout (24-18). Ibitayo gavve the Zips a 10-point lead (30-20) with 2:40 before Akron took a 30-25 lead into the locker room.
South Carolina scored three quick points to open the second half before the Zips went on a 9-2 run to force the Gamecocks to call a timeout. A Nyles Evans floater in the lane gave Akron a 39-30 lead with 17:25 to go.
Back-to-back turnovers by the Zips allowed the Gamecocks to close the gap to 51-50 with 10:56 left in the half and the Akron lead would be one (59-58) heading into the final media timeout of the game. Reggie McAdams, fouled on a 3-pointer before the timeout, hit 1-of-3 to give UA a 60-58 advantage heading into the final 3:30 of the game.
Robotham hit free throws on consecutive possessions, going 3-of-4, to give Akron a 63-58 lead with 41.6 to go. The Gamecocks then called time out to set up their offense.
After a South Carolina jumper, Robotham split a pair at the line. The Zips got a stop on the defensive end and Jake Kretzer followed with two free throws for a 65-60 lead. South Carolina's 3-pointer with five seconds left, followed by two free throws by Cheatham, gave the Zips the five-point win.
The Zips will conclude their four-game road trip on Tuesday, Nov. 25, when they face Penn State in University Park, Pa. The contest will air live on ESPN3, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
(Courtesy of UA Athletics/MRO Edit)