University of Akron senior Zeke Marshall couldn’t help but crack a smile when public address announcer Jeff Shreve enthusiastically announced his accomplishment over the speakers to the crowd gathered at Rhodes Arena.
Marshall surpassed the 1,000-point mark with a right-handed dunk early in the first half of UA’s 91-63 victory over Coppin State before a crowd of 2,227 on Wednesday.
“I am very grateful I got the 1,000-point mark,” Marshall said. “I just continued to play. I am thankful for the standing ovation I got [during a timeout]. I heard some of it. I was in the middle of the huddle at the beginning and I heard some of the end of it.
“It feels really good. I accomplished an offensive goal, now I am trying to accomplish defensive goals. I want to see if I can get offensively better and defensively better.”
Marshall, playing in his 118th game for UA, led the Zips (9-4) over the Eagles (3-12) with 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. He is the 40th UA player to reach 1,000 points.
“He is doing some good stuff, rebounding and scoring around the rim,” UA coach Keith Dambrot said. “He is a force.
“I am proud of him. He is continuing to work hard and he is controlling his emotions well. You can see him getting better.”
Marshall, who is 7-foot and 235 pounds, accounted for the Zips’ opening six points with a tip-in, the milestone right-handed dunk with 18 minutes and 34 seconds remaining in the first half, and a layup.
The Eagles refused to go quietly initially though, as senior guard Troy Franklin tried his best to keep his team close. Franklin made 6-of-11 3-pointers and finished with 26 points to lead Coppin State, but UA was just too tall, athletic and skilled.
UA spokesperson Dallas Moyer said Marshall joined freshman Jake Kretzer and junior Nick Harney to give the Zips three players with a double-double in the same game for the first time in UA’s Division I era (since 1980-1981).
Kretzer totaled 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Harney had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“At the beginning of the game we realized we had a big, big size advantage,” Harney said. “It was a goal for us to beat them down in the paint. We tried to set the tempo, stay on the glass and rebound.”
UA senior Brian Walsh made 4-of-6 3-pointers and finished with 14 points, and junior Demetrius Treadwell added 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Zips put together an 18-2 scoring run during the middle of the first half and led 42-27 at halftime.
“I thought we were lethargic,” Dambrot said of the first half. “We had a rough day at practice [Tuesday]. Maybe it was New Year’s? I don’t know. We have been practicing really well, but I thought we looked tired. We played five games in about 15 days. I am not trying to make any excuses though. [Junior guard] Alex [Abreu] wasn’t totally healthy. He was a little sick. When your head is a little sick, you don’t play as well. I don’t think he had any juice at all, really. We looked a little juiceless.”
UA held a 61-32 rebounding edge, with 20 offensive rebounds and 41 defensive rebounds.
“We have some things we need to keep working on, but we have good big people,” Dambrot said. “I like our big people and the way they are playing.”
Freshman Sterling Smith and junior Charles Ieans scored nine points apiece for Coppin State. Sophomore Deji Ibitayo scored seven points for UA, and freshman Reggie McAdams added six points.
UA hosts Western Michigan at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829.