Eastern Michigan put up a fight late in the first half and early in the second, but the East Division-leading Akron Zips were too much for the Eagles to handle tonight at home.
Eastern Michigan won the tip, but Akron’s Antino Jackson scored first from three. EMU responded by going on a tear, including a swatted block that turned into two points and a free throw from Ty Toney to go up 7-3.
For a while, with Akron leading 12-11, it seemed like neither team could make a shot until Akron’s Josh Williams broke the deadlock near the 12-minute mark. Tavian Dunn-Martin added three for Akron, and EMU’s Willie Mangum broke the Eagles’ several minute-long scoring drought. Daniel Utomi continued the Zips’ success from beyond the line to make it 21-13 before Mangum went to the line for two shots, making both. Utomi hit from three to give Akron a 10-point lead.
Mangum found the net for three with six minutes to go in the first half, cutting Akron’s lead to five. EMU’s Jordan Nobles missed from three, and Jimond Ivey put up two for Akron. EMU’s James Thompson put up a basket to keep Akron’s lead at five, and an Akron turnover gave EMU the ball, and Baylee Steele turned it into two points.
Thompson cut Akron’s lead to one, and an Akron turnover led to an EMU lead courtesy of Mangum. Akron, however, would go into the half with a lead following an Isaiah Johnson layup. Johnson was fouled on the play, but missed his free throw. Akron led at the half, 35-34.
Akron preserved their lead early in the second with a three from Noah Robotham. EMU responded in kind, before Kwan Cheatham hit another three for the Zips. Following yet another Zips shot called in from beyond the arc, play was stopped for blood on a player’s jersey.
After the cleanup, Ivey put up two for Akron, deftly covering his mistake following a failed alley-oop. A Cheatham three put the Zips up double digits again with 11 and a half minutes left in the second, and Robotham hit from three to keep it there, before Cheatham stuck again for another treble. Ty Toney continued the trend of offensive firepower from downtown, bringing Akron back down to 11.
With eight minutes left in the second half, Akron had made their five threes in a row, and then Cheatham made it six to make the score 70-54. Mangum eventually brought the Akron lead back down to single digits near the five-minute mark, but Utomi quickly put up six more points on two shots for the Zips.
The Eagles couldn’t overcome the Zips in the final minutes, and Akron came out 87-76 winners.
Akron improves to 21-4 overall (11-1 in the MAC), and Eastern Michigan falls to 13-12 (5-7).
The Zips are next in action at home against Toledo Tuesday evening, while the Eagles are at home to Ohio Tuesday evening.