AKRON, OHIO – Freshman Eric Parrish scored a career high 20 points as the Akron Zips ended a four-game losing streak, defeating the Central Michigan Chippewas 69-63 Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Arena.
With the victory, Akron (11-13, 4-8 MAC) improved to 11-2 at home while ending . . .
“It was a great team Effort today.” Zips head coach John Groce said. “I thought we played with a blue-collar mentality on the defensive end of the floor. I thought our guys gave a great effort today.”
Parrish added nine rebounds, an assist and a steal as three UA players reached double figures. Junior Daniel Utomi added 20 with eight boards and a blocked shot, while junior Jimond Ivey had 19 with seven assists and four rebounds.
Central Michigan (15-10, 4-8) suffered its second consecutive defeat as the Chippewas lost at home to East Division leader Buffalo on Tuesday night 68-62.
Junior Shawn Rountree and freshman Matt McKay, who came off the bench, led CMU with 14 points. McKay also contributed 10 rebounds and two steals, while Roundtree collected four boards and had three assists.
The game started out as a battle of runs as CMU scored seven of the first eight points within the first four minutes. UA countered with a 10-1 spurt to take its first lead (11-8) on a three by Utomi at the 13:50 mark.
Central Michigan led 23-17 at the 6:04 mark after a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Luke Meyer, who had eight points in the opening half. Parrish then went on a scoring binge, registering eight consecutive points to push UA back in front 28-25 at the 1;29 mark. The hosts held a four-point lead at intermission 31-27 and never trailed again.
Neither team shot the ball well in the opening 20 minutes. UA went 11-of-26, and CMU was just 10-of-29 (34.5%). the visitors held a one-rebound advantage, 18-17.
At the start of the second period, the Zips lead fluctuated between one and five points. Later, CMU had a chance to tie or take the lead when Cecil Williams went to the line. However, he missed three of four free throws.
Coming into the game, CMU was the leading free throw shooting team in the MAC at 81 percent (both in non-conference and conference play). In fact, the Chips were among the top five teams in all of Division I. Against UA, Central faltered with a 10-of-21 mark from the charity stripe.
The closest CMU could get was two points, 65-63, in the final minute when they surprised UA with a press defense and scored five straight points.
CMU still had a chance to tie the score with 28 seconds remaining, but Williams, who finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds, missed a short jumper in the lane.
Parrish grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and made both free throws to push the lead back to four -- and finally to six -- as the Zips won their 10th in the last 11 meetings against CMU.
Both teams struggled at times shooting the ball. UA finished at 43.9 percent and CMU waas at 40.7 percent. The rebound battle was dead even at 37-37. Central led in paint points, second half points, and bench scoring, but could not pull out the victory.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday as UA faces Ball State, while CMU heads to Northern Illinois.