A huge second half effort by Akron and poor shooting by Western Michigan saw the Zips start off conference play in dominant fashion as they brushed off the defending MAC Champion Broncos 72-52 on Tuesday night.
James A. Rhodes Arena was buzzing for the MAC opener and the Zips (10-4) responded accordingly, playing attractive, pass-happy basketball to go up by 22 points in the second half. The Broncos (9-5) didn't score until 14:45 was left in the second half and by then the Zips were rolling.
Western Michigan began to find its stroke from behind the arc midway through the second half but the Zips never seemed like they were in any danger.
The post play of Pat Forsythe was pivotal to Akron's success as the junior center recorded 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting. Deji Ibitayo and Aaron Jackson were also firing on all cylinders, as they tallied 12 points and 10 points, respectively. Ibitayo was especially effective, as the Chicago native connected on three of his four 3-pointers.
The Zips looked every-bit like MAC Championship contenders throughout the majority of the game and Western Michigan made them look like Final Four hopefuls with a dismal defensive display. Akron shot 48 percent from the field, while the Broncos shot an unsatisfying 35 percent from the field--including going 7-26 in the second half.
Tucker Haymond tried his best to keep Western Michigan in the game - he went 7-12, including 5-7 from deep - but he didn't get enough help from his teammate to truly put forth a rallying effort.
It didn't start out easy for the Zips as they struggled a bit in the opening minutes. But they eventually found their rhythm and went on a 16-6 run to go up 24-11 with eight minutes left to go in the first half. They wouldn't relinquish the lead from that point on and put on a dizzying display for all in attendance.
Next, Akron travel to Toledo to take on the Rockets on Friday at 7. That game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Western Michigan's next test is at home against Buffalo on Saturday at 1.