AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips rebounded from their loss to Youngstown State at the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament Saturday with a 72-62 win over the Eagles from American University Thursday night at Rhodes Arena.
The win not only evened Akron’s record at 1-1, but also marked their 18th consecutive victory at home dating back to the end of the 2014-15 season, when they lost to Miami.
“We’re kind of in . . .
Four Zips players scored in double figures, with three registering double-doubles. Leading the way was senior Kwan Cheatham with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Isiah Johnson added 14 and 10 boards. Sophomore Jimmond Ivey had 12 and 11 caroms, while Junior Noah Robotham registered 16, going seven-of-10 from the free throw line.
UA started the contest hitting five of its first six shots, with four of them coming from three-point range. The hosts built a 14-2 lead at the 16:11 mark when Cheatham connected on a three from the top of the key, and the Patriot League visitors played catch-up basketball for the remainder of the evening.
Once the Zips started to cool off from the floor, AU started to chip away at its deficit, closing to six points on two occasions. The last was at 31-25 on a driving layup by Washington. Robotham ended the opening 20 minutes with a layup to give the Zips an eight point cushion at intermission, 33-25.
After its early shooting success, UA only went 8-fo-26 the remainder of the half, finishing just 40.6 percent for the opening 20 minutes. The Zips held a narrow 16-15 rebound edge, however they turned the ball over once.
The Eagles continued to climb back into the game early in the second half, closing the margin to three on three occasions. The last was at 44-41 on a steal and layup by Jones with 10:10 remaining.
It would be the closest the visitors would get for the remainder of the game. Their momentum was blunted when Ivey scored on a thunderous slam dunk at the 11:59 mark.
When asked about Ivey’s play in the first two games of the season, Dambrot said, “He’s a high-level athlete. He just has to hold himself to a higher standard.”
Ivey, who suffered a wrist injury last season then had knee surgery in the off-season, had 14 points and nine rebounds against YSU.
The dunk steadied UA and it started to pull away. The Zips led by as much as 13 points in the closing moments, scoring their final 15 points from the foul line to win by 10 in the first meeting between these two schools at the Division I level.
Neither team shot the ball well in the second half, UA was only 7-of-23 (30.4%) and finished the game at 36.4% (20-of-55), while AU was only 13-of-33 (39.4%) and just 41.8% (23-of-55) for the game. The Zips dominated the rebound battle, 44-30, with 13 of them coming on the offensive glass. However, they missed a lot of shots and layups close to the basket.
The AU game starts a three-game homestand for the Zips as they return to action on Sunday evening against the Highlanders of Radford out of the Big South Conference.