When you don't play a real competitive basketball game for three weeks, it can take awhile for a team to get everything rolling again. Fortunately for the Zips, the lull that normally comes from not playing another team was short-lived Saturday at the Wolstein Center.
The Zips started slow but heated up quickly. Shots that weren't falling in the first five minutes started dropping. You could really tell that Akron was starting to put it all together with possession after possession of crisp passing and great shot-making.
Akron finally got something from the point guard position with Nyles Evans hitting multiple threes in the first half, including a back-breaking buzzer beater to end the half. Evans' development is key this season for the Zips. Keith Dambrot needs him to command that position and make plays, and that's just what Evans did. Nick Harney also played a great half back in his hometown, scoring nine.
The Vikings tried to switch to a 2-3 zone in the second half, but it was to no avail. Reggie McAdams and Jake Kretzer both played the role of zone buster, hitting corner three after corner three. It seemed no matter what the Vikings did they just could not get a stop. Akron held a pretty constant fifteen or so point lead in the second half until the Vikings started pressing. It got a little interesting when Bryn Forbes' corner three cut the lead to eight with a minute or so left, but that's all the closer the Vikings would get.
It was a phenomenal effort from the Zips defense in holding a Viking team that came in averaging 77 points per game. Forbes, Cleveland State's leading scorer (19.8 ppg), finished with only nine and most of those came within the last three minutes. Trey Lewis, a Penn State transfer and the Vikings' second leading scorer, only managed to put up six.
Harney led the Zips in scoring with thirteen and McAdams and Evans both had twelve. Demetrius Treadwell played pretty well after the scare a couple weeks ago when there was speculation he had quit the team. He scored just seven but hit a clutch jumper at the top of the key when the Vikings were trying to come back.
This win brings Akron's won-loss record back to even at 2-2. It was a promising effort and one that Zips fans should be pretty happy with. There are some things to work on, but when you take into account what kind of talent Cleveland State has it was impressive.
The Zips are back in action next Saturday at home against Bethune-Cookman.