Neither the Akron Zips (5-4) nor the Arkansas Golden Lions would get much credit for style in Tuesday night’s meeting at James A. Rhodes Arena.
In fact an arena full of ugly basketball nearly engulfed the JAR until the Zips got poked one time too many and began to exert some semblance of control over the Lions (1-9).
Led by Brian Walsh’s 14 points, including four three- pointers, and Zeke Marshall’s 13 points and five blocked shots, they knocked out a 76-46 victory.
Tevin Hammond led the Lions with 14 points.
It took the Zips a while to get their bearings as they struggled offensively, missing their first five shots of the game and allowing the Lions to gain enough confidence to trash talk. It ended, however, as they showed patience and made a conscious effort to work their offense.
“We’ve been home run, strikeout all season,” coach Keith Dambrot said. “We’ll make some great plays for three or four minutes, and then we’ll look like we never played the game before and we’ll strike out.”
On the other side of the ball, they struggled early facing a zone defense, something that’s been a rare sight throughout the season.
But it was their defense and rebounding that sealed the win, as they played ferociously in the second half, not allowing the Lions a point for almost 10 minutes and holding them without a field goal for more than 12 minutes. After going into the half with a 34-21 lead, they outscored Arkansas 42-25, with most of the Lions’ points coming in garbage time.
The Zips’ defense played relentlessly after getting a grip on the game. Overall, they allowed just 29 percent shooting for the game and forced 18 turnovers that they turned into 26 points.
There wasn’t too much for Dambrot to complain about regarding any aspect of his team’s game as they crushed the boards, out rebounding the Lions 50-24. Those numbers included a dominating 19-7 edge on the offensive glass, which netted the Zips 17 second-chance points.
Turnovers turned out to be the lone problem area as the Zips coughed the ball up 25 times in the game.
“It was a different feel for the game. We’ll take the win for sure,” Walsh, a senior guard, said. “Obviously it wasn’t pretty. We had 25 turnovers and you’re not going to beat a good team with that.”
Center Zeke Marshall tallied another five blocked shots. That’s the sixth time in this young season that he’s had that many or more in a game.
Quick shot: The 46 points are the fewest the Zips have allowed since they last faced Eastern Michigan.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.