AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips bounced back from their loss on Sunday afternoon at Louisville to post a wire-to-wire 64-47 victory over the Merrimack Warriors Friday night at Rhodes Arena
Akron improved its . . .
“We did a good job attacking the zone in the paint," Zips head coach John Groce. “I was not thrilled with our defense and our turnovers.”
Senior guard Tyler Cheese led all scorers in the contest with 20 points, going 7-of-15 from the field. Fellow senior Xeyius Williams added 14 with 12 rebounds, while Channel Banks hit three of five trey attempts on the way to 11 points.
Merrimack was led by senior guard Jaleel Lord with 11 points and five rebounds. Senior Javarius Hayes added 10 with five boards, three assists and three steals.
Continuing a trend they have established over the first home games, the Zips opened strong, scoring the game’s first seven points as they made seven of their first ten shots from the floor.
The Warriors (Northeast Conference) stayed close to UA, closing the gap to 18-14 at the 10:11 mark on a layup in the paint by freshman Jordan Minor.
However, a decisive run midway through the opening stanza gave Akron the lead for good. Just as in wins over USC-Upstate and Youngstown State, the Blue and Gold used a 13-2 run over seven and a half minutes to open a 31-16 lead on a layup by Cristenm Jackson and go into halftime with 33-20 advantage.
The Zips built their lead thanks to shooting 53.8 percent from the field (15-of-28) and held a narrow 18-16 rebound edge. Merrimack managed just 10-of-31 from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and missed all 13 of their shots from beyond the arc.
At the start of the second period, MC closed the gap to nine on two occasions the last being 38-29 when Joyner scored on a breakaway layup with 16:45 remaining. It would be the closest the Warriors could get for the remainder of the game.
From that point on, UA’s lead remained in double digits, fluctuating between 11 and 13 points before winning by 17 at the final buzzer.
Over the 40 minutes, UA shot an even 50 percent (25-of-50) from the field, going 5-of-12 from three-point range, while MC finished the contest at 35 percent (20-of-57) from the floor and only 2-of-20 from beyond the arc.
The Zips won the battle of the boards 36-29. However, Merrimack had 10 offensive rebounds. One negative stat on the evening for UA was that it committed 16 turnovers, which the Warriors converted into 17 points.
The rest of the stats were Blue and Gold, including six blocked shots seven steals.
Akron’s next game comes on Wednesday when it travels to Huntington to battle the Marshall Thundering Herd.