The University of Akron men’s basketball team won its first two games of the season this past weekend by beating American and Radford at home. The Zips improved their record over the weekend to 2-1 after losing to Youngstown State last Saturday.
First, the Zips hosted American University in their home opener on Thursday as they received their MAC Regular Season Championship rings from last season. Akron wouldn’t let the excited fans down. They gave them a 72-62 victory.
Three players recorded double-doubles for the Zips in the game. First, Kwan Cheatham tied for the team lead in scoring with 16 points and led the team with 12 rebounds. Cheatham made two 3-pointers and went a perfect 8-8 from the foul line. He also led the team with two assists.
Last season’s leading scorer Isaiah Johnson also dominated the paint, scoring 14 points with 10 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. Johnson went 5-11 from the field and 4-5 from the foul line. Finally, sophomore guard Jimond Ivey came off the bench and totaled 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Also for Akron, Noah Robotham scored 16 points while going 7-10 from the foul line and Josh Williams scored eight points, making two 3-pointers.
The Eagles were led by Delante Jones and James Washington, who each scored 18 points. Sa’eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini contributed seven points each, while Charlie Jones and Jalen Rhea added five points each off the bench.
The Zips got off to a fast start as they scored the game’s first eight points en route to a 33-25 halftime lead. The game got a little too close in the second half, as the Eagles cut the Akron lead to three points on three separate occasions.
The Zips were able to close out American, however, as they were phenomenal from the foul line with fewer than three minutes remaining. The Zips made 17 of 20 free throws in the last two minutes and 45 seconds as American tried to pull off a comeback late by sending the Zips to the line.
The Zips then got back to the hardwood on Sunday evening as they slaughtered Radford, 88-41. In the blowout the Zips played a season-high 15 players, and the most minutes played by a Zip was just 23 minutes (Antino Jackson, Williams).
Johnson led the Zips in scoring on the night with 15 points, and he led the team in rebounds with seven. Jackson made three 3-pointers to total 12 points, Robotham also made three 3-pointers for nine points, and Williams added seven points on 2-6 shooting from deep.
Usual reserve players got to play more against Radford, as Daniel Utomi played 11 minutes and scored an excellent 14 points. Also, Tavian Dunn-Martin finished with 11 points while making all three 3-pointers he attempted. Emmanuel Olojakpoke added six points and five rebounds. Aaron Jackson, Jimond Ivey, Craig Eubanks, and Michael Hughes each played at least nine minutes off the bench.
Marquelle McIntyre, Mark Noble, and Carlitos Anderson each got playing time and played well off in limited minutes.
Akron is off to a solid start to their season, and they will return home on Tuesday night as they play Georgia Southern. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron.