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Ohio Shuts Down Akron 66-63

Jan. 24, 2006

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ATHENS, Ohio - Leading by a point with 30 seconds left, Ohio forced a missed shot, grabbed the rebound and converted each of its next four free-throw attempts to hold on for a 66-63 victory over Akron Tuesday in The Convo.


Ohio (12-3, 6-1 Mid-American Conference) fell behind 10-0 to start the game, took its first lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and used a dominant effort from its bench to capture its 11th-straight victory in Athens.


The Bobcat victory snaps an eight-game win streak for the Zips (13-4, 6-1 MAC) and vaults Ohio into a tie for second place in the MAC's East Division.


Leon Williams (Baltimore, Md.) pulled down the decisive rebound in the closing seconds and converted both of his free-throw tries on his way to a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double.


Ohio's bench accounted for 38 points on the night, headed up by 11 from Jerome Tillman (Beavercreek, Ohio) and 10 from Johnnie Jackson (Memphis, Tenn.). Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Jeremy Fears (Joliet, Ill.) kicked in nine points and six assists.


The Zips forced turnovers on four of Ohio's first seven possessions and quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. Ohio finally got on the scoreboard at the 15:13 mark with a Jackson three-pointer, but Akron maintained control of the game, upping its lead to 11 on two different occasions.


Ohio trailed 21-11 at the 9:03 mark of the first frame, but the Bobcats responded and pulled close for the first time all night. Fears stole an Akron pass, took it to the other end and flushed it down with two hands with just more than six minutes left, capping a 9-0 Bobcat run that resulted in a 21-20 count on the scoreboard.


Tillman tied the game for the first time since the opening tip with a foul shot at 4:24, but it wasn't until Fears drilled his only three-pointer of the evening at the 1:39 mark that Ohio took the lead.


The Bobcats went to the break with a one-point advantage. Twenty-five of Ohio's 34 first-half points came from its reserves, including a game-high eight from Jackson.


Ohio shot just 20 percent (3-15) from three-point range in the first half, but hit 41.4 percent (12-29) from the field.


The Zips knocked down five first-half three-pointers and were led by eight points apiece from Romeo Travis and Nate Linhart.


The game remained highly contested throughout the second half, with Akron tying the game on two occasions.


Tillman dropped in a lay-up with 7:31 left in the half that gave the Bobcats a seven-point lead, its largest of the game.


The Zips wouldn't go away, though. As the game approached the two-minute mark, a pair of Linhart free-throws trimmed Ohio's lead to one, 62-61.


Akron forced an Ohio turnover and regained possession, down one, with 30 seconds left. Dru Joyce's jumper attempt clanged off the rim and was rebounded by Williams, who converted a pair of free throws on the other end.


After a Fears foul on the inbounds pass, Joyce hit two free throws with six seconds left to make the score 64-63. Akron was forced to foul, and Fears knocked down both free-throw tries to give Ohio a three-point lead with four seconds remaining. The Bobcats forced a turnover in the final couple seconds and hung on for the victory.


Seven Ohio players entered the scoring column Tuesday, with four hitting double figures. Mychal Green (Columbus, Ohio) scored 10 with five rebounds and Whitney Davis (Ann Arbor, Mich.) kicked in nine points, six assists and eight rebounds.


The Zips were led by Travis, who hit for 17 points. Linhart scored 10 and Joyce netted 11.


The Cats hit the road this week for a date with Buffalo. Ohio will meet the Bulls at 8 p.m. Thursday in Alumni Arena. The game can be seen live on Fox Sports Net Ohio.