Feb. 25, 2006
AKRON, Ohio -
In front of a sellout crowd at James A. Rhodes Arena, the Akron Zips remained undefeated at home this season with a 76-61 Mid-American Conference victory over the Ohio men's basketball team on Saturday.
After Jeff Halbert's second-three pointer of the game gave the Bobcats an early 8-5 lead, Akron went on an 8-0 run and never trailed again. A three-pointer by Nick Dials just four seconds before halftime gave the Zips (20-7, 13-3 MAC) a 38-29 advantage at the break.
After the Akron lead went as high as 12 on a dunk by Nate Linhart at the 5:13 mark, Ohio used a pair of free throws by Leon Williams, a three-pointer by Sonny Troutman and a steal and pair of free throws by Mychal Green to make it 64-59 with 3:46 to play.
Following an Akron turnover, the Bobcats (16-9, 9-7 MAC) had the chance to cut the gap to just two but a Green three-pointer was off the mark and the Zips answered with 12 straight points to secure their first 20-win season since 1988-89 when former head coach Bob Huggins guided them to a 21-8 campaign and their last postseason appearance.
"I thought our energy and shot selections were good but we just couldn't convert when we needed to," said Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea. "If Mychal makes that shot with three and a half minutes to go and we cut it to two, it would have become very, very interesting down the stretch. That was our opportunity to win the game and we just came up short."
For the second straight game, Green led all scorers. The senior guard from Columbus, Ohio, provided 18 points Saturday after pouring in 21 during Wednesday night's win over Buffalo. Williams was the only other Bobcat to reach double figures as he recorded 14 points on top of his team-high seven rebounds.
Sophomore point guard Antonio Chatman contributed nine points and four assists for Ohio while Halbert added six points, Troutman and Jerome Tillman five each and Johnnie Jackson four.
Romeo Travis led Akron with 14 points and 12 boards. Dru Joyce, Cedrick Middleton and Rob Preston each scored 13 points while Nick Dials rounded out the balanced attack with 11.
The Bobcats shot 36.2 percent (17-of-47) from the field, 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from three-point range and 78.6 percent from the free-throw line while the Zips managed 52.9 percent (27-of-51) from the field, 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from behind the arc and 93.3 percent (14-of-15) from the charity stripe. Ohio led 24-10 in points off turnovers but Akron held the edge in rebounds (38-21), points in the paint (30-18) and second-chance points (13-6).
"Akron shoots the ball exceptionally well and today they hit some big shots," O'Shea said. "We did a good job with our defensive pressure at the end when we got some turnovers but we just didn't convert enough and that's going to happen on the road sometimes. I told our guys that 12 days from now, if we're fortunate enough to get to Cleveland, we'll have a rematch."
With the win, the Zips clinched a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament and extended their home-court winning streak to 17 games - 12 this season - which is tied for fifth-longest in the nation. Under head coach Keith Dambrot, Akron is 26-1 at home with the only blemish coming last February to Kent State.
Next up for Ohio is a Tuesday night game at Kent State. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the 8 p.m. contest will be televised live by Fox Sports Net Ohio. The Golden Flashes improved to 21-7 overall and 14-2 in the MAC by overcoming a 17-point deficit and defeating Miami 70-63 Saturday afternoon at the M.A.C. Center.
The Bobcats will then close out the regular season at home against Bowling Green on March 4. That senior day contest will begin at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.
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