The Akron Zips took on the Cleveland State Vikings in the opening game of a Coaches vs. Cancer double header.
The action was ugly early from both sides, but Akron downright atrocious. There were dumb fouls, dribbling into double teams, and a lot of missed shots. We’ll chalk it up to the long off season. At the 7:46 break in the first half, Akron was down 24-12. Four Vikings had 5 points each. Daniel Utomi had 7 of the points for the Zip, while the team had 7 turnovers.
They came out of the time-out and promptly had a 5 second violation. Craig Eubanks and Utomi hit a pair of back to back threes to give the Zips some life, but that was short lived. The lid went back on the basket and the Zips found themselves down 30-19 late before Eric Parrish hit a three with a minute left and gave us the score at the half, 30-22 Cleveland State.
As bad as Akron played, they were still in the game. The Zips shot 8 of 30 from the floor and were out rebounded 23-16. They had 11 turnovers but so did the Vikings, which helped keep the game within reach.
Parrish had a dunk at the 18:10 mark in the second half which energized the arena and the team. That was the start of a Zips run. Utomi hit a three and then Parrish had a traditional three point play to close the gap to 36-32. Torrey Patton then hit a pair of three throws to close the gap to 2. Another Utomi three tied it up, 37-37. It was his 18th point.
A Parrish put back gave the Zips their first lead since the 15:32 mark in the first half, 41-39. After the teams traded a pair of three throws, Jaden Sayles had a block that warmed up the crowd and then Malcolm Duvivier finished with a baseline dunk that sent them in a frenzy. CSU had to call a timeout as the Zips took a 45-39 lead.
A pair of Emmanuel Olojakpoke blocks resulted in Zips points and CSU was forced to call another timeout at the 8:23 mark with the Zips up 51-42. A three by Stefan Kenic of the Vikings closes the gap 54-47 before Parrish announced his presence at a key moment yet again to keep the Zips up by 9.
At the 3:55 media timeout the score was Akron 56 and CSU 49. Duvivier, who was having rough game drove to the free throw line and hit a jumper as the shot clock was winding down to put the Zips back up by 9.
A sleeping giant finally awoke at the 2:34 mark and Jimond Ivey hit a step back three to give the Zips their first double digit lead of the game. It was fitting Parrish hit 4 free throws to help close out the win, 67-57.
Daniel Utomi led the Zips with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Parrish added 17 points and 6 rebounds. The timing of his plays are what made the 6’6 freshman Parrish the player of the game for me. The Zips only shot 31% from the floor, and Ivey was a terrible 3-14. That’s actually good news for Zips fans, because there is not doubt this was just a bad game for the star. We have enough data to know Ivey is a fantastic player. Another encouraging sign for the Zips is that they won the rebounding battle, 46-38, by committee. 7 Zips had 4 or more rebounds.
The Zips take on UT-Martin on November 18th.