Akron started the contest on fire and played great defense, jumping out to a 13-5 advantage by the 15-minute mark. UA drained 4-of-9 field goals with 3-of-7 coming from 3-point land, while the defense limited the Wildcats to just 1-of-9 shooting. However, the Zips allowed Nova to capitalize on 3-of-4 free throws.
Akron continued to control the scoreboard at the under-12 and under-8 minute media timeouts, posting a shooting percentage as high as 58.8 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Zips led 26-20 at the 7:42 mark, however Nova slowly started to find its rhythm and climbed back into the game.
As the Wildcats offense heated up as the game went on, Akron's began to cool down. With 3:44 remaining in the half, Akron was clinging to a three-point advantage, 31-29. Nova tied the game at 31 apiece and finished the half with seven unanswered points for a 38-31 halftime advantage.
After the break, the Wildcats used the momentum to create a second 9-1 run, leading to a 47-32 advantage by the 16:29 mark. After extending the lead, the No. 11 team in the country never looked back.
Sophomore guard Antino Jackson led Akron's scoring efforts with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting, including a 3-of-8 effort from downtown. Jackson owned a perfect 2-for-2 showing from the free throw line with two steals and two assists. Junior forward Kwan Cheatham followed with 11 points and added five rebounds with two assists. Senior wing Reggie McAdams and freshman guard Josh Williams added eight points apiece while pulling down six and five boards, respectively. Junior center Isaiah Johnson grabbed a team-high eight rebounds while chipping in six points.
Three Wildcats notched double digits as Josh Hart led the way with a game-high 27 points and nine rebounds. Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins followed with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Akron finished the game shooting 35.6 percent from the field (21-of-59), including a 33.3 percent effort from downtown (11-of-33) and 30 percent effort from the charity strip (3-of-10).
The Wildcats improved to 40.3 percent shooting from the floor (27-of-67) and 32.1 percent from deep (9-of-28) while collecting a 75.0 percent effort from the free throw line (12-of-16). Villanova held a slight 44-38 advantage on the glass and caused 16 turnovers while committing seven with nine steals. The Zips had five steals.
The Akron basketball team will continue the 2015 NIT Season Tip-Off with games three and four against Green Bay and Charleston Southern. Akron will travel to Green Bay, Wis., to face Green Bay on Tuesday, Nov. 24. at 8 p.m. ET.
Akron will conclude the NIT Season Tip-Off by playing host to Charleston Southern on Friday, Nov. 27, at James A. Rhodes Arena at 7 p.m.
(Courtesy of UA Athletics)