The University of Akron gave more of a workmanlike effort than a dazzling one during its 68-55 Mid-American Conference win over Bowling Green at the Stroh Center on Wednesday night.
That’s all that was required against the Falcons (7-13, 2-5). The Zips (16-4, 7-0) increased their winning streak to 12 in a row.
Center Zeke Marshall scored 15 points and grabbed three rebounds and point guard Alex Abreu produced his most balanced game of the season. Abreu scored nine points, making three-of-five 3-pointers, and added six assists.
And Demetrius Treadwell continued to play like a rebounding beast, tying for the game high with 11 rebounds to complete his fourth double-double. He also had 10 points.
“The good thing about us is it’s a different guy every night,” UA coach Keith Dambrot said, giving credit to freshmen Jake Kretzer and Reggie McAdams who each made crucial shots from outside.
But Abreu set the tone, getting his teammates involved early and scoring enough to keep the Falcons’ defense off balance for much of the game.
When Abreu is scoring, it simultaneously opens things up for his teammates and complements what they do on the court.
“He managed the game well,” said Dambrot, who got his 200th win at UA.
The Zips shot 48 percent for the game and outscored the Falcons 36-26 inside.
But they probably did their best work on defense, holding the Falcons’ two dominant scorers, guard Jordon Crawford and forward A’uston Calhoun, to a combined 16 points on 3-of-24 shooting.
“[Treadwell] is as strong as an ox, so he leaned on [Calhoun],” Dambrot said, “and then Zeke and Pat [Forsythe] sat behind him and knocked everything back. It bothered him. Crawford … we just kept constant pressure on him.”
Others tried to pick up the slack, but it wasn’t enough for the Falcons, who shot just 33 percent from the floor and were unable to build any momentum.
The Zips were resilient throughout the game. The Falcons made a move and were behind by just seven points with 12:39 to go but the Zips responded.
Two minutes later, the Zips led 52-37 and pushed it to 64-44 before cruising to the final buzzer.
It was their most dominating game of the season and it probably could not have come at a better time with the first of two regular-season showdowns against Ohio looming Saturday evening at Rhodes Arena.
“Each game is different. We’re confident. They’re confident. Both teams have tremendous belief structure,” Dambrot said of Saturday’s game. “Both teams think they should be in the NCAA Tournament. Both teams think they can win in the NCAA Tournament. But it’s going to be a terrific game for Northeast Ohio to watch.”