The Akron Zips defeated the Georgia Southern Eagles at James A. Rhodes Arena Tuesday night in their second game of the Savannah Invitational 75-67. The Zips now sit at 3-1 on the year while the Eagles now sit at at 1-3.
The Zips got off to a slow start but a few three pointers gave them a 8-4 lead at the first timeout break. Although Akron's offense didn’t look good early, they played great defense from the start. With 13:29 left in the half, the Zips entered the bonus and shot free throws the rest of the half as Georgia Southern got into foul trouble. The Eagles and Zips traded baskets back and forth until the second timeout break. With 11:24 left in the half the Eagles gained the lead sitting at 13-12. Both teams came out of the second timeout break launching from the three point line, as we have seen Akron do a lot of this year. The three ball brought them back and gave them the lead, 21-17, with 7:16 remaining in the half. Akron kept pushing, feeding it to the big man Isaiah Johnson pushing their lead to 34-26 forcing the Eagles to call a timeout with 3:06 left in the half. Akron's offense finished a lot better than it started and gave them a 39-30 lead going into halftime.
At the half, the Zips had a great spread of scoring with seven different players contributing. They were lead by Isaiah Johnson (10 pts), Antino Jackson, and Josh Williams, who both hit a pair of threes (6 pts each). Akron shot 48.1% from the field and 38.9% from the three point line. Their defense was what standed out for the half, making things difficult for the Eagles, holding them to 30 points.
The Eagles did not have quite the spread Akron did as they had 6 players contribute. They were lead mainly by Ike Smith (13 pts), while Tookie Brown (5 pts) was the next highest scorer. Georgia Southern got off to a slow start shooting a rough 27.3% from the three but had more success inside the arc shooting 40.7% from the field. Defensively, they tried everything from man to zone but had trouble stopping Akron’s attack, especially the big man in the middle.
Akron came out hot in the second half, not giving Georgia Southern a chance to get back into things right away. With 14:45 left in the half, The Zips forced the Eagles to call a timeout as they were down 38-50. The Eagles turned things around going on an 8-2 run to bring it back within 6 forcing the Zips to call a timeout of their own. Georgia Southern jumped into a zone defense as they had no match for Isaiah Johnson inside, but their zone was not working very well either as Akron lead 60-50 with 8:57 left in the game. Johnson was very successful and efficient in the game to this point with 16 points shooting 6-7 from the field and 4-5 from the free throw line. With 4:12 left in the game, just when Georgia Southern thought they were right back in it, Isaiah Johnson got a key and one to pull the lead up to 64-59. The Eagles continued to battle but came up short falling to the Zips 67-75.
Akron was led by the man in the middle, who dominated the paint with 20 points. Also making major contributions were Antino Jackson (19 pts) and Jimond Ivey (15 pts) off the bench. The Zips finished the game shooting 46.4% from the field and 30.6% from the three point line.
Georgia Southern was lead by two main players in Ike Smith (23 pts) and Tookie Brown (15 pts). The Eagles next highest scorer was Mike Hughes with 7. They could not get it done offensively tonight. As a team, they shot 47.2% from the field but a disappointing 26.7% from the three point line.
Akron returns play Friday the 25th at 7:30pm against Air Force in the Savannah Civic Center for another Savannah Invitational game. The Zips look to push their win streak to 4 in a row Friday.