AKRON, OHIO – Sophomore point guard Noah Robotham scored a career-high 20 points, 14 of which came in the second half, as the Akron Zips completed the non-conference portion of their schedule by defeating the Lipscomb Bisons 80-73 Saturday night at Rhodes Arena.
The win gave Akron (11-2) its eighth consecutive win and best start after 13 games since they have been in Division I basketball. In fact, you have to go back to the 1971-72 season when they were also 11-2 in Division II.
“Tough game tonight” Zips head coach Keith Dambrot said. “Lipsomb has been . . .
Along with his 20 points, Robotham had six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Junior center Isiah Johnson matched him with 20 points, along with five rebounds, two steals and three blocked shots. Sophomore guard Antino Jackson added 10 and had eight assists.
Lipscomb (4-13), from the Atlantic Sun Conference suffered, its fifth straight loss and ninth in the last 10 games.
The Bisons were led by junior guard J.C. Hampton, who led all scorers in the contest with 21 points and seven rebounds. Junior Brett Woshon came off the bench to score 12 points with six rebounds and three assists. In addition, freshman Garrison Mathews added 10 coming off the pines.
UA held as much as a nine-point lead in the first stanza and went into halftime with a seven-point advantage, 36-29.
At the start of the second half, the Bisons went on a 16-3 run to take a 45-39 lead, their largest of the game, with 15:39 remaining on a three-pointer from the left arc by Hampton.
The Zips regained the lead for good, 50-48, on a three from the left arc by Antino Jackson and built as much as a seven-point lead on three occasions. The last was 71-64 with 2:24 remaining when Robotham made both ends of a one-and-one free throw situation.
When asked how the team rebounded from the surge by the Bisons, Robotham said “We weren’t defending during that time. We had to start on the defensive side, then offensively we got the ball to Johnson and that helped a lot.”
For Johnson, it was the first time in his career he has had consecutive 20-point games. He registered a career high 24 in the win Wednesday night over South Carolina State.
The closest LU would get for the remainder of the game was five points, 69-64, when Mathews hit a pair of free throws at the 3:13 mark.
From that point on, UA started to pull away, opening its biggest lead of the game, 77-66, at the 1:01 mark on an Antino Jackson free throw bfore winning by seven in the first ever meeting between the two schools.
Neither team shot the ball well over the 40 minutes. The Zips hitting just 39.4 percent (26-of-66), while Lipscomb was at 39.7 percent (27-of-68). LU won the rebound battle, 47-38, however the key stat in the game was turnovers. UA turned the ball over just three times, while the Bisons had 13.
Akron has been able to win despite not having two key components on the floor. Senior center Pat Forsythe has missed the last three games with a badly sprained ankle suffered during a practice between games at the South Point Classic in Las Vegas. Another senior, Jake Kretzer, missed the game with concussion like symptoms. Dambrot said both should be in uniform and playing in the MAC opener on Tuesday.
Mid-American Conference play begins for the Zips on Tuesday night when they travel to Buffalo to face the defending MAC Tournament Champion Bulls. Last March, UB ended the Zips season in the semi-finals of the MAC Tournament. 69-58. Akron returns home on Friday to face Western Michigan.