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Akron Zips vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Basketball Final: A Tale of Two Halves

The Zips came out firing, but went home with nothing to show for it.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Take yourself back to the 2014 MAC semifinal. Akron vs. Western Michigan in game number one. The Zips jump out to a 34-17 lead at the half over the number one seed Broncos. Then the second half comes around. The Zips go stone cold from the floor and lose in overtime.

I'm sorry to remind fans of the Akron Zips of that game, but if you were at the Q on that painful night, you can understand what went down at Penn State tonight.

The Akron Zips paid the Penn State Nittany Lions a visit tonight for their first official road win of the season. Akron jumped out to a huge early lead like they did so many times before during this young season.  A 3-pointer by Reggie McAdams gave the Zips an 8-0 lead three minutes into the game forcing Penn State to call a time out. The Zips continued to pour it on, not letting Penn State to get any closer that five points for the rest of the half. The Zips went into the break with a commanding 45-32 lead.

That's a pretty good half for a MAC team playing in a Big Ten arena. Too bad basketball has two halves.

The second half was all Penn State. The Nittany Lions took a 48-45 lead before the Zips even came out of the locker room, or so it seemed. The Zips were outscored 16-0 in the first six minutes of the second half. Akron's defense wasn't necessarily the issue either. It was pretty much all on the offense.

Akron opened the second half with ten missed shots until Jake Kretzer was able to end the madness with a triple. Kretzer's shot created a little 5-0 run that gave Akron a 50-48 lead. The only other second half Akron lead was at 54-52. Penn State was able to slowly pull away as they took a 70-62 lead with three minutes to go until Akron showed some signs of life. Noah Robotham mad a layup to cut the Nittany Lion lead to two with seventeen seconds to go, but two free throws and a layup sealed a 78-72 Penn State victory.

Akron was able to continue its successful free throw shooting on the season with a 16-17 showing in the loss. The lone miss was from breakout senior Deji Ibitayo, who went 8-9 from the stripe on the night to add to his seventeen point total.

D.J. Newbill was the biggest problem for the Zips. The Penn State guard put up 29-5-5 while shooting 8-12 from the field. The win gives Penn State a 5-1 record on the young season. The Zips (3-2) return home to face Tim O'Shea and the Bryant Bulldogs on Sunday at 5pm.