By Published: 2/11/2018 7:34:00 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Akron Athletics

Akron, Ohio – The Akron Zips used a combination of good team defense and balanced scoring to elevate past the visiting Central Michigan Chippewas at James A. Rhodes Arena Saturday afternoon, earning a 69-63 Mid-American Conference win.

Freshman guard Eric Parrish (Cypress, Texas) led a trio of Akron scorers in double figures with a career-high 21 points. Parrish went 7-of-12 from the floor, including a 2-of-3 effort from deep and a 5-of-6 performance from the charity stripe. He grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and added two steals, a blocked shot, and an assist.

Sophomore guard Daniel Utomi (Houston, Texas) tallied 20 points and junior guard Jimond Ivey (Cleveland, Ohio) contributed 19 to go with seven assists and four rebounds for the Zips, while graduate transfer guard Malcolm Duvivier added nine points.

After taking the lead late in the first half, Akron never relinquished it and held off Central Michigan's attempts to rally down the stretch. Utomi had a key 3-point play at the 3:34 mark of the second half to boost the lead to eight after the Chippewas closed to within five at 58-53.

Central Michigan wasn't able to get any closer than two points in the final two minutes, with Parrish hitting two big free throws and adding a breakaway dunk to raise the lead to six points in the final 15 seconds.

Against a Central Michigan team that entered the game third in the MAC in scoring at 78.8 points per game, Akron locked in defensively and held the Chippewas to 5-of-22 shooting from beyond the arc.

It was defense that kept Akron close in the midst of a slow start and despite giving up a significant size disadvantage to the taller Chippewas, the Zips (11-13, 4-8 MAC) kept the rebounding battle close, with both teams corralling 37 caroms.

Additionally, Akron committed just 11 turnovers, maximizing their scoring chances on a day when neither side shot better than 44 percent from the field.

The Zips struggled from the floor in the early going, making just one of their first seven field goal attempts as Central Michigan edged out to an early lead. Thanks to solid defense, Akron was able to stay in the game and when Ivey sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12:04 remaining in the first half, it brought the Zips to within two, 8-6, despite their shooting woes.

Ivey tied the game with a short jumper in the lane after the subsequent media timeout, prompting Central Michigan to call a timeout in an effort to slow the Zips' run. The timeout failed to stem the tide, as Akron took its first lead of the game moments later with a 3-pointer from the left wing by Utomi.

The two teams traded the lead for the remainder of the half, including several ties, before consecutive 3-pointers and a layup by Parrish staked Akron to a 28-23 edge with just over 90 seconds remaining before intermission. A contested 3-pointer by Utomi capped an 11-4 run the Zips to close out the half, sending the hosts to the locker room with a 31-26 lead.

After its slow start, Akron made 10 of its final 19 shots in the opening 20 minutes while holding the Chippewas to 34.5 percent marksmanship (10-of-29). The result was the end of a four-game losing streak and the Zips' fourth MAC win of the season.

Akron returns to action Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., hosting Ball State in a rematch of a double-overtime contest won by the Cardinals in Muncie, Ind. last month. In addition, Tuesday night's game is Akron's fifth annual Purple Out game. The game can be seen on ESPN3 and heard on 1350-AM.

Published: 2/11/2018 7:34:00 AM Custom Tag