Central Michigan came into tonight's game having one of the most prolific offenses in the country. The Chips had the second-highest scoring offense in the entire nation, and was in the top ten in made three-pointers.
The Akron Zips had something to say about that. Akron's pressure defense combined with an off-shooting night from the Chippewas in the first half gave the Zips yet another home victory, this time by an 82-76 margin.
Central Michigan shot just 25 percent from the floor in the first half and went just 1-7 from beyond the arc. This is the same Chippewa team that pounded Miami for 62 points in the first half just days ago. The only reason why Central Michigan was anywhere close at halftime (a 39-24 Akron advantage) was because of free throw shooting. The Chips shot 11-14 from the line in the first half while Akron was just 6-11.
Reggie McAdams was the catalyst in the first half notching 18 points on 5-7 shooting from the floor including 3 three-pointers. That tied the Akron program record for points in a half in a single game and was just two points short of McAdams' career-high, which he easily reached in the second half. Noah Robotham also played well and hit some nice contested three-pointers to propel the Zips' offense.
The second half was really just Akron and Central Michigan trading baskets. The Chippewas would go on a 4-0 run but Akron would answer right back. McAdams didn't keep up his torrid first-half scoring pace, but was still effective and ended up with a whopping 31 points.
That was until the under four minute media timeout. Akron led comfortably 71-58 with just over three minutes left before the Chips mounted their comeback. Three straight Akron fouls turned that 13-point lead into a seven point lead in just 30 seconds of actual game play. After a Pat Forsythe dunk, CMU went on a quick 6-0 to cut the Akron lead to just three points.
After a Deji Ibitayo missed three-pointer with 1:26 to go, CMU got the rebound and called timeout. Forsythe fouled Chris Fowler who sank both free throws. What was once a 13-point lead with 3:35 to go turned into a one-point lead with just under a minute to play.
On the next possession Nyles Evans hit an absolutely huge three-pointer to push the lead to four. CMU's Rayshawn Simmons then travelled, and Ibitayo nailed his two freebies. Then, Forsythe fouled John Simons, who was in the act of shooting a three. Luckily for the Zips he only made two, and the Zips still had a two-possession lead. Ibitayo made two more free throws to put the game away and Jake Kretzer finished the game off with another pair from the charity stripe.
Fowler had one of his best games of the season, scoring 26 points on 8-14 shooting from the floor combined with a 9-12 showing at the free throw line. Fowler also scored his 1,000th career point as a Chippewa, a pretty outstanding feat seeing as he's only a junior. Braylon Rayson was also in double figures with fourteen, while Simons posted a double-double scoring eleven points and grabbing ten rebounds.
Other than McAdams nobody really made a dent in the scoring column for the Zips. Robotham ended up with twelve points to go along with four assists. Ibitayo, who ended up with nine, sank some clutch free throws at the end of the game to make the closing seconds a little less stressful than they could have been.
Next up for the Chippewas is a juicy home date with Buffalo on Wednesday. This will be yet another test for CMU's young frontcourt as forward Justin Moss will look to replicate his 31 point and 15 rebound performance from earlier today.
Akron heads to Northern Illinois, losers of their last two after beating Ohio on the road, on Wednesday. The Huskies always give Akron a tough game, and this one will likely be no different.
|R. McAdams (31)
|C. Fowler (26)
|J. Kretzer (8)
|J. Simons (10)
|N. Robotham (4)
|C. Fowler (5)
|D. Ibitayo (3)
|J. Kretzer (3)
|C. Fowler (2)