Men's basketball soars past Ball State Cardinals

On Saturday night, The University of Akron’s men’s basketball (15-10, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) took on the Ball State Cardinals (14-10, 6-5 MAC) in front of a crowd of 3,401 at UA’s James A. Rhodes Arena.


On Saturday night, The University of Akron’s men’s basketball (15-10, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) took on the Ball State Cardinals (14-10, 6-5 MAC) in front of a crowd of 3,401 at UA’s James A. Rhodes Arena.

The Zips defeated the Cardinals 75-60 and now have a three-game winning streak on their hands, as they were led offensively by guard Steve McNees with 16 points.  McNees finished the game 6-for-10 from the field with four rebounds and four assists.

 Forward Nikola Cvetinovic had 13 points and eight rebounds, while Brett McKnight, Alex Abreu, and Brett McClanahan finished the game in double digits with 12, 11, and 10 respectively.

Ball State opened the second half on a 12-4 run to cut Akron’s lead to 37-35 with 16:16 to play in regulation, but a fast-break jumper by Abreu and five straight points from McNees put UA back at nine.

We just hit that stretch where we are good and then just bad, but were getting a little more consistent, said UA Head Coach Keith Dambrot. We need to keep playing well. We have shown we can play well. For a while, we didn’t show we could play well.

UA used a 9-3 run through the middle of the first half to build an eight point lead, as Abreu and McKnight each drilled three-pointers to ignite the rally, going into half time with a 32-25 lead.

Ball State, who now drops to second place in the West Division behind Western Michigan, was led by junior forward Jarrod Jones, who had 19 points and eight rebounds. He was the only Ball State player to reach double digits.

This league is always tough. We expect people to beat each other,” senior guard McNees said. ”We have been practicing better and it has translated on the court.”

Akron’s perimeter defense was excellent all night, as they only allowed the Cardinals to go 3-for-10 from behind the arc. The Zips have held their opponents to a combined 6-for-35 (17.1-percent) from the three point line.

”I thought we played pretty good defensively. As long as we are not getting shot out at the three-line, which has been our weakness, we’re in good shape,” Dambrot said. ”We are going to win if we hold to 60 most nights.”

With UA’s victory over Ball State, Akron has now won the last seven meetings versus Ball State and has placed Dambrot in a tie for eighth place on the career wins list as a MAC coach, with 174.

The Zips will return to action this Tuesday when they travel to Bowling Green, with tip-off set for 7 p.m. Akron returns home this Saturday when they take on the Creighton Blue Jays in the ESPNU Bracket Busters at 7 p.m.