Led by a career-high 25 points from forward Jake Kretzer, the University of Akron was in control from beginning to end and claimed a 78-68 win over Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Kretzer connected on 7-of-12 3-pointers on the way to leading all scorers. He scored 19 points in the first half. He was followed by forward Demetrius Treadwell with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Forward Quincy Diggs added 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
Eastern Michigan’s Karrington Ward led his team with 20 points and six rebounds.
Kretzer got hot early and made five 3-pointers in the first half.
“We occupied them on the low box and they’re not used to having to cover down-and-in and that allowed [Kretzer] to get open,” UA coach Keith Dambrot said.
Dambrot said that Kretzer is just now getting back in gear after not practicing much during the summer because of back issues.
“He missed two months out of the year, so he’s just now getting himself into game shape,” Dambrot said. “We think he’s a tough kid. He can shoot the ball. He has good understanding of the game. He plays hard defensively.”
In fact, it felt as if that’s the way things were going to go the entire night for the Zips after they took a 20-point halftime lead.
But the Eagles proved pesky, going on an 11-4 run early in the second half to get back into the game. The Eagles cut the lead to 48-41 before the Zips settled back down. Treadwell, Kretzer and Nick Harney led the Zips on an 8-0 run to make things more comfortable.
“I was pleased with that,” Dambrot said. “I thought our old teams used to do that. I didn’t know if this team had it in them yet.”
The Zips played well defensively, too, holding the Eagles to 36 percent shooting from the floor and blocking 14 shots.
Using a new starting lineup that included Harney, Diggs, Kretzer and Carmelo Betancourt, who had been coming off the bench, the Zips opened the game with a 12-0 run. Akron built the lead to 39-19.