AKRON, Ohio — Arkansas-Pine Bluff survived Akron’s initial run Tuesday night.
The one that hit the Golden Lions in the second half looked all too familiar and was too much for them to overcome.
Akron went on a 23-0 run over a 9-minute stretch and rolled past the Lions 76-46 in front of 2,639 at James A. Rhodes Arena. The blow the Zips delivered came 10 days after Air Force scored 18 straight second half points in a 16-point win over the Lions.
“They’re a good basketball team, and when you play against good basketball teams you have to take advantage of every situation you get,” UAPB head coach George Ivory said.
UAPB (1-9) trailed 39-29 with 17:40 left and was still in position to rally against an Akron team that wasn’t at its best.
It all unraveled for the Lions in a matter of minutes.
The Zips’ Brian Walsh and Deji Ibitayo hit back-to-back three-pointers. Zeke Marshall, a 7-foot center and an NBA prospect, hammered home a dunk. Chauncey Gilliam hit a three, and Reggie McAdams buried a pair from outside the arc.
McAdams’ second three-pointer gave Akron a 62-29 lead. A three from UAPB’s Tevin Hammond with 6:28 left stopped the Zips’ run and a Lions field goal drought which lasted almost 12 minutes.
“I thought they did a good job of pressuring us and forcing us in doing things that we don’t normally do,” Ivory said.
Hammond finished with 14 points to lead UAPB. Lazabian Jackson added 12 points and five steals.
The Lions scored the first six points of the game before the Zips ran off 10 in a row.
UAPB remained in striking distance for most of the first half. A Jackson three-pointer cut into a seven-point Akron lead. Jaylon Floyd hit a jumper after the Zips pushed it to eight.
The Zips began to pull away late in the half and opened up a 34-21 halftime lead.
“We played great the first half, but I just think they wore us down over the course of the game with their size,” Ivory said.
Marshall finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Jake Kretzer, Demetrius Treadwell and Pat Forsythe also helped Akron decisively win the rebounding battle 50-24. The Zips finished with 19 offensive rebounds.
“That’s hurting us right now,” Ivory said. “We just have to be a little tougher than what we are.”
Walsh scored 14 points to lead Akron, the defending Mid-American Conference regular season champions and a program that has produced seven straight 22-plus win seasons.
“They go 10 and 11 deep, and all of them come out and play hard,” Ivory said. “They execute very well.
“When you’re that deep and have that size, I think they’re going to be pretty good.”