"UC Santa Barbara has terrific perimeter players," said head coach Keith Dambrot. "We tried to be more physical inside, and that was the difference in the game."
Six Zips (8-2) tallied double figures in scoring en route to the 14-point victory over the Gauchos (2-7). Las Vegas native . . .
Senior wing Jake Kretzer and sophomore guard Antino Jackson followed with 14 points apiece, while senior center Pat Forsythe chipped in 13 points. Junior center Isaiah Johnson and freshman guard Josh Williams rounded out the double figure scorers with 12 and 11, respectively. Johnson added a team-high six boards and four assists.
Both teams had the hot hand in the initial stanza. Akron shot 51.7 percent (15-of -29) from the floor and a blistering 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from downtown. UCSB was 52 percent (13-of-25) from the floor and 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from deep. Akron knocked down 10 triples in the first 20 minutes, led by Robotham's 3-of-3 effort. Williams (3-of-5) also drained three first half 3-pointers, while Kretzer (2-of-3) added two long-range jumpers. Jackson and junior Kwan Cheatham, Jr. each had one.
"We were able to score in-front of the rim, which was our game plan," Dambrot said. "When they decided to double-team us down low, we made them pay the price from the perimeter."
Jackson opened the game with a three-ball, but back-to-back layups gave the Gauchos a 4-3 early advantage. Shortly after, Jackson swiped a pass and finished the fast break opportunity to spark an 7-0 run. Johnson followed with a lay-in and Williams connected with a triple for a 10-4 Zips' lead.
UCSB interrupted the run with a bucket. However, the Zips' rattled-off eight additional unanswered points for an 18-6 lead at the 11:57 mark.
The Gauchos fired back with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 18 apiece, and eventually reclaiming the lead at 23-21 with 7:44 left before the break.
Robotham answered with a 3-pointer while Kretzer and Williams followed suite. With 2:31 left to play, the game was knotted for fourth time at 32-32, and a strong post move by Forsythe put the Zips back on top. Kretzer followed with his second triple of the half, while Cheatham added a deep ball to complete the scoring for a 40-35 halftime advantage.
After the break, UCSB scored six-straight points, establishing a 41-40 edge. Robotham found Jackson in the corner for a 3-point bucket, and after a three by Kretzer, Jackson connected again from the outside to lift the Zips to a 49-41 lead.
Kretzer pushed the lead to 10 points with a pair of free throws, and the Zips continued to put points on the board, extending their lead to as many as 15 points, 68-53.The Gauchos used short scoring spurts to cut the deficit to eight points, but Akron ended the game with 10 made free throws and a layup at the horn by Robotham.
Akron finished the game shooting 48.2 percent, 27-of-56 from the field, including a 46.9 percent, 15-of-32 performance from downtown. The Zips also connected with 15-of-21 shots from the free throw line for a 71.4 percent showing.
Akron forced 19 turnovers while committing only 11 as a team. The Gauchos won the battle of the boards with a 36-27 advantage.
UC Santa Barbara had three double-digit scorers. Gabe Vincent led the way with 16 points. Michael Bryson and John Green followed with 13 points each. The Gauchos shot 46.4 percent from the floor on 26-of-56 shooting, including a 7-of-20 (35.0 %) effort from long distance.
The Zips' last five-game winning streak was during the 2013-14 season. They had two stretches with five-straight wins, Dec. 7-22, defeating Cleveland State, Bethune-Cookman, Oral Roberts, Detroit, and Oregon State and Dec. Also, 31-Jan. 15 defeating Coppin State, Marshall, Ball State, Ohio, and Toledo.
Akron will continue play at the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. On Wed., Dec. 23, the Zips face Iona at 3 p.m. ET.
(Courtesy of UA Athletics)