AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips improved their record to 2-1 on the young season as they routed the Radford Highlanders from the Big South Conference, 88-41, Sunday night in the first game of the Savannah Invitational at Rhodes Arena.
The victory was the 19th straight for UA on the home hardwood, dating back to the end of the 2014-15 season when the Zips lost to Miami. In addition, the Zips have not lost a non-conference home game since early that season when they fell to Middle Tennessee -- a span of nine games.
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Junior Isiah Johnson led all scorers in the contest with 15 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Daniel Utomi came off the bench to score 14, all of them coming in the second half. Junior Antino Jackson added 12 and two assists, while freshman Tavian Dunn-Martin had 11 after going a perfect three—for-three from beyond the arc.
Similar to their home opening win Thursday night over American University, the Zips took the lead from the opening basket and never looked back. They started slowly from the field, but still built a 20-7 lead at the 8:50 mark when Johnson scored on a short jumper in the lane.
From that point on, UA’s lead never fell below double digits. In fact the closest
Radford would get for the rest of the game was nine points at 15-6 when Randy Phillips scored on a layup at the 11:04 mark.
RU had all sorts of trouble hitting shots from the field missing eight of their first ten in the first half of the opening period. Meanwhile, the Zips continued to build their lead to as high as 18 points on two free throws by Johnson and led by 15 at halftime 29-14.
Any hopes the visitors from the Big South Conference had of getting back into the game were quickly dashed in the first two minutes of the second half as the Zips tallied eight quick points on three’s by Antino Jackson and junior Noah Robotham, as well as a short jumper by Johnson to make the score 37-14.
With the game pretty much decided, Dambot used his bench the majority of the second half to see what kind of combinations he and his coaching staff could use as the season progresses.
UA was simply sizzling in the second stanza, going 20-of-30 from the field (66.7%) and finishing the game at 56.6% (30-of-53). If there were any blemishes on the stat sheet, it was 14 turnovers and going just 15-of-21 from the free throw line.
After hitting 5-of-23 from the floor in the first half, the Highlanders did shoot a bit better in the second period, going 10-of-25 (40%). Still, Radford finished the game at 31.3 percent (15-of-48). It converted 9-of-19 from the foul line and committed 22 turnovers.
The 41 points allowed were the fewest by a UA team against a Division I opponent since November, 2008 when Akron gave up 41 to Fairleigh Dickinson at the Legends Classic in New Jersey.
The Savannah Invitational continues for the Zips Tuesday night when they host the Eagles of Georgia Southern. The Sun Belt Conference foe is 1-2 on the season after losing Saturday at Mercer.