LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Akron Zips improved their winning streak to six games after defeating non-conference opponent Iona, 78-64, on the final day of the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. Akron handed Iona (4-6) its second consecutive loss, while the Zips improved 9-2 overall -- the best start in head Coach Keith Dambrot's tenure.
Junior center Isaiah Johnson earned the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic Most Valuable Player award while . . .
SIX ZIPS IN DOUBLE FIGURES – AGAIN!
For the second-straight game, six Zips scored in double figures. Johnson recorded his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds while senior wing Reggie McAdams led the Zips in scoring with 16 points. McAdams connected with three triples and pulled down a second-best seven rebounds.
Kretzer followed with 13 points and five boards while sophomore guard Antino Jackson and junior forward Kwan Cheatham, Jr. chipped in 11 points each. Robotham rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and added a team-high four assists.
It was a back-and-forth battle in the first half as Akron connected with nine first half three pointers, shooting 40.9 percent from deep and 40.4 percent overall from the field (15-of-37). Iona was 53.8 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc with 14 FG and three triples. The Gaels added eight made free throws to its score while the Zips made both attempts (2-of-2).
ZIPS HOT, GAILS NOT
The second half stat sheet was much different. Akron posted a 53.8 shooting percentage (14-of-26), including a 36.4 effort from deep (4-of-11) while limiting the Gaels to 35.7 percent shooting (10-of-28) and 18.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (2-of-11).
"We handled adversity really well," Dambrot said. "We got into foul trouble early, and had to go with a smaller lineup. Iona used that to stay in the game in the first half, but I give are guys a lot of credit for playing tough and making a lot of big shots."
Iona started the scoring when Deyshonee Much drove through the lane for a layup. The Zips quickly responded as Johnson was fouled while cashing in on a strong post move. He completed the old-fashioned three-point play to give the Zips its first lead of the game. Robotham, McAdams, and Cheatham followed with a barrage of 3-pointers as the Zips increased the lead to 14-8.
EARLY AKRON FOUL TROUBLE
Iona began to chip-away as a result of Akron's foul troubles, and by the 11:24 mark, the Gaels squared the game at 20 points apiece. Jackson and McAdmas responded with a pair of triples, sparking an 11-3 run capped by a 3-point shot by Kretzer.
Iona fought back with a 9-0 run, and eventually grabbed a 39-38 advantage with under a minute to play. McAdams finished the Zips' first half scoring with a rebound and put-back while being fouled. He completed the three-point play as Akron regained a 41-39 halftime advantage.
After the break, the Zips outscored Iona by 10 points (18-8) for a 59-47 advantage at the under-12 media timeout. Jackson started the scoring burst with a triple and McAdams followed with two free throws. The Zips continued to connect from downtown as Jackson let one fly from the corner and Robotham hit from the same spot. Johnson continued to create havoc in the paint, connecting on four strong post moves while dominating the glass.
ZIPS GET STOPS
Iona tried to get back into the game, but the Zips defensive continued to get stops and interrupt any type of serious run. A Kretzer put-back and McAdams triple from the left side pushed the Zips' lead back to double-digits (76-59) with 3:39 remaining in the contest. From there, the Zips and the Gaels traded buckets until the final buzzer sounded.
For the game, Akron connected with 29-of-63 shots from the field, finishing at 46.0 percent. The Zips connected with 13 long-range jumpers (13-of-33) for a 39.4 percent effort while making 7-of-9 free throws for a 77.8 percent performance from the charity stripe. Iona shot 44.4 percent from the field (25-of-54) and just 25.0 percent from downtown (5-of-20). The Gaels were 11-of-19 (57.9 percent) from the charity stripe.
Akron won the battle of the boards 38-30, while causing 13 turnovers with five steals. The Gaels generated 14 turnovers and had seven steals.
Iona's Jordan Washington led all scoring with 21 points with an 8-of-14 showing from the field and 5-of-10 showing from deep. Jahaad Proctor followed with 18 points while the Zips limited Much to just seven points.
The Akron basketball team will be back in action at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio on Wed., Dec. 30, playing host to non-conference opponent South Carolina State at 7 p.m.
(Courtesy of UA Athletics)