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Akron Zips vs. Bluffton Beavers Final: Akron dismantles Bluffton for early Christmas present

Strong defense by the Zips and a huge first half saw Akron destroy the Beavers at James A. Rhodes Arena.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

In his first start for Akron, redshirt-freshman B.J. Gladden put on a show for those in attendance at James A. Rhodes Arena. The wing/forward from Charlotte finished two dunks in transition in the opening minutes and ended the game with 11 points as the Zips demolished Bluffton 92-53.

The first couple minutes saw Akron's full-court press give the Beavers fits as Bluffton (4-4) started the game with five straight turnovers. The Zips (7-4) converted on each of those turnovers, two of which resulted in monster dunks by Gladden, and held a double-digit lead within the opening minutes of the game.

It took Bluffton four minutes to score, courtesy of Thayne Recker, but Akron was already off and rolling.

Many of the Beavers early points came from free throws as the Zips threw themselves into the opposition, going for blocks but mainly drawing shooting fouls. But points from the charity stripe can only get you so far and shooting 18-45 from the field makes it almost impossible to put a vast amount of points on the board.

Akron, on the other hand, nearly doubled the Beavers' output—going 37-of-66—and beat Bluffton in nearly every other statistical category. The only thing that the Zips lost in was the rebounding category, in which the Beavers recorded 32 to the Zips' 28, but the Akron squad made better use of theirs by capitalizing on second-chance opportunities.

Junior center Pat Forsythe was central to that as he was a major contributor on both ends of the floor. He recorded 14 points, six rebounds and four steals and showed his dominance in the paint. Many of his shots were turnaround hooks and hustle-plays that show his versatility with his back to the basket.

Senior guard Nyles Evans and Junior wing Reggie McAdams stood out as well. Evans tallied 14 points, two steals and two assists, while McAdams—who connected on all three of his 3-point attempts—had nine points, three rebounds, two steals and one assist.

After a two-game skid, this is just what the Zips needed and if they play like that throughout the rest of the season—utilizing an intense full-court press and forcing turnovers, of which Bluffton had 28—than they can be a major force in not only the MAC East division but the conference as a whole.

Many fans thought that the loss of Demetrius Treadwell meant a disappointing season for Akron. But behind the play of outstanding freshman point guard Noah Robotham, Gladden's emergence and the scoring contributions of almost everyone on the Zips' bench, Akron have the ability to be one of the better teams in the MAC.