Johnson, making his first start of the year, sank two free throws on a 1-and-1 to put the Zips up one with 1:05 to go. With the game tied at 69-all and 27.3 remaining, he pushed Akron on top for good with two more freebies.
The win snapped an eight-game road losing streak for Akron (13-6, 4-2 MAC) and gave the Zips a season sweep of Western Michigan (13-6, 4-2 MAC).
Johnson led the Zips with a career-high 16 points to go with a game-high eight rebounds.Noah Robotham was the only other Zip in double figures (12).
Taylor Petty came off the bench for 17 points to pace WMU. Tucker Haymond (14) and David Brown (13) also reached double figures.
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Both teams struggled early, unable to convert for points on their first four possessions. David Brown's 3-pointer on WMU's fifth possession put the Broncos on the board prior to the under-16 media timeout. The Zips would score on three of their next for possessions to take a 7-5 lead.
Akron used a 10-2 run to open up a 14-7 lead by the under-12 media timeout, with four Zips pitching in on the run. The Broncos answered, tying the game at 16-all by the 10:02 mark.
Over the final 10 minutes of the opening half, neither team would lead by more than four points until Robotham put the Zips up by six (36-30) with 1:53 to go. WMU scored five of the final six points of the half, but UA took a 37-35 lead into the locker room.
The first 20 minutes saw two ties and seven lead changes during a half in which both teams shot better than 45 percent from the floor (Akron 48.1, Western Michigan 46.4).
WMU scored the first five points of the second half, but Akron answered with seven-straight of its own to take a 44-40 lead (16:40). That lead would be short-lived, as the Broncos tied the game prior to the under-12 media timeout (51-51).
Robotham gave the Zips a 57-53 lead thanks to back-to-back buckets.
Kwan Cheatham, Jr., would be called for a foul, then a technical, with 8:35 to go, but WMU converted just two of its four free throw attempts to trim the Akron lead to 57-55.
Just over a minute later, Western Michigan tied the game at 57-all on a Perry layup.
Reggie McAdams and Aaron Jackson responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Zips back on top, 63-57, with 6:06 on the clock.
With 4:05 remaining, Akron’s Antino Jackson was called for a foul and a technical foul with the Zips up 65-59. WMU's Brown would sink 3-of-4 free throws and the Broncos clearned up the miss to make it a one-point (65-64) contest with 3:59 left in the game.
With the Zips leading by one, the Broncos slipped in front for a 68-67 edge, forcing Akron to call a time out with 1:26 to go.
Johnson then hit two free throws, putting the Zips up one with 1:05 to go.
Following a Haymond FT to tie the game, Johnson hit two more free throws to give Akron a 71-69 lead.
Following a WMU timeout with 14.3 left, Brown's 3-point attempt went long and a late scramble for the ball burned the final seconds off the clock, allowing Akron to hold on for a 71-69 win.
The Zips return home for one game when they play host to Ball State on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. ET.
Western Michigan is at Buffalo (7 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of UA Athletics/MRO edit)