AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips completed the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 79-62 win over the Coppin State Eagles Saturday night at Rhodes Arena.
The victory was the third straight for Akron (9-4) after losing consecutive games in mid-December to Middle Tennessee and North Dakota State while improving their record at home to 7-1.
Four players scored in double figures for UA, led by sophomore Isiah Johnson, who tied a career high with 13 points. Junior Kwan Cheatham, freshman Noah Robotham and Antino Jackson each scored 10.
The defeat was the 10th straight for Coppin State (1-14, 0-2 MEAC) and 0-12 on the road. Its lone victory of the season came on December 1st at home over Goldey-Beacom.
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Both teams had the lead in the early going before the visitors from Baltimore scored seven straight points to take an 11-7 lead at the 13:30 mark on a layup by Smith, who had eight points in the opening 20 minutes.
It would be Coppin State’s only lead of the game as the Zips went on a 28-8 run over a nine minute stretch to take control of the game, 41-23, at the 3-20 mark when senior Deji Ibitayo connected on a three-pointer from the left arc.
To their credit, the Eagles fought back with a 10-2 spurt of their own to go into halftime trailing by only 10 at 43-33. UA built its halftime advantage by shooting 48.1 percent from the field (15-of-31). Six of those baskets came from three-point range. The Zips committed just four turnovers.
Akron also stepped up its defense, holding the Eagles to just 11-of-29 from the floor (37.9%) and just 2-of-13 from beyond the arc while forcing 13 turnovers and converting them into 22 points. One statistic, however, that bothered the Zips was that they were rebounded by a wide margin -- 24-10 -- and did not pull down one offensive rebound in the opening period.
CSU continued to chip away at its deficit at the start of the second half, closing to within seven on two occasions. The last was at 45-38 when Smith hit a pair of free throws with 16:56 remaining.
That would be the closest the Eagles could get for the remainder of the game as the Zips ran off five straight points to get the margin back to double digits. It was part of a 13-5 run, capped by Robotham, who had to be carried off the court midway through the first half with an apparent leg injury, hit a three from the right arc to make the score 58-43 at the 12:49 mark.
The Zips continued to extend their lead getting as high as 19 points in the closing moments, when senior guard Nyles Evans made one of two free throws, before winning by 17
UA cooled off from field in the second half, going just 11-of-32 (34.4%) and finished the game at 41.3 percent (26-of-63). Eleven of their baskets came from beyond the arc -- the fourth time this season they have made 10 or more three-pointers in a contest.
Coppin State finished the game at 37.5 percent from the floor (21-of-56). It outrebounded the Zips 42-33. However, 22 turnovers were converted into 27 UA points. In addition, the Zips outscored the CSU bench 46-9.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Zips as they open Mid-American Conference play on Tuesday night against the defending MAC Tournament champion Western Michigan Broncos.