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Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Akron Zips men's basketball final: Zips take care of NIU 76-66

Zips take advantage of free throws in the big home victory.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The refs were bad, but you already knew that. 46 total fouls called led to the Akron Zips (16-4, 5-2) feeding off of free throws, helping give them a 76-66 win over Northern Illinois Huskies (16-4, 5-2) at Rhodes Arena.

Sloppy game from the start. Certainly felt like it was going to be a West Virginia vs. TCU matchup when (re: their 61-foul game) when there were 19 total fouls in the first 12 minutes of play. Both teams were off to poor starts on offense, but then Akron started to heat up from outside the arc with a pair of 3-pointers from Noah Robotham and one by Jake Kretzer. Kwan Cheatham was the only one who didn't waste any time to get to scoring, making his first three shots (two 3-pointers) to get off to a quick 10 points.

Huskies leading scorer Marin Maric had one of his worst outings of the season. Only five points to his name, he made two of his eight shots (traveled en route his first make, but the there was no whistle there because that's what refs [don't] do in this conference). He went up against "Big Dog" Isaiah Johnson for some of the game (14 minutes for Johnson). Johnson ran into foul trouble, but he still went 3-for-3 from the floor with seven free throws to get 13 points.

Cheatham actually had a perfect game. 18 points shooting 5-for-5 from the field (4-for-4 free throws), grabbed five rebounds and only fouled once.

Four Huskies had two 3-point makes, but the Zips do it better (but not by much). Cheatham made all four of his, Robotham and Kretzer both made three of their own, Zips collectively go 12-for-31 from downtown.

NIU's leading scorer of the night was Marshawn Wilson. 15 points off of nine field goal attempts, but was a non-factor otherwise. Travon Baker and Aaric Armstead both finished with 10 points each as well.

Fun stat line: Antino Jackson didn't make his first field goal until the final minutes of the ball game (1-for-6) and still ended up with 13 points. Life's good when you make ten free throws.