Written by: Sartaj Aujla
After the 74-70 overtime loss to Coastal Carolina last Friday, Akron’s men’s basketball team responded by crushing the John Carroll Blue Streaks at the James A. Rhodes Arena on Monday, 97-53.
The win was their first of the season and brings their record to 1-1. John Carroll falls to 0-1.
The Zips opened up the first eight minutes of the game on a 21-5 run, forcing the Blue Streaks to sub out all of their starters in hopes of getting an offensive rhythm going.
A layup from John Carroll’s Kenny Janz brought the score to 21-7, but the Zips continued to attack.
Zips center Pat Forsythe responded with his own layup to bring the score to 23-7, and guard Deji Ibitayo scored three points to fortify the lead, 26-7.
Zips forward Jake Kretzer finished off the half with a layup to bring the score to 49-27.
“Kretzer and McAdams are going to be great guys off the bench for us,” head coach Keith Dambrot said. “They have definitely shown that.”
After a steal in the second half, guard Alex Abreu found Ibitayo open in the corner. Ibitayo delivered a three to improve the Zips’ lead to 52-29.
The Blue Streaks hoped to recover some momentum, and a smooth layup from John Carroll’s Regan Sweeney brought the score to 52-31. But that momentum was easily stopped when Zips center Zeke Marshall blocked Sweeney’s next layup a few seconds later. The block completely deflated the Blue Streaks.
Minutes later, Zips guard Brian Walsh caught the Blue Streaks’ defense napping and delivered a successful three-pointer to bring the score to 72-42.
The Blue Streaks’ hopes were crushed when Ibitayo slammed a monster dunk with 10 minutes left in the second half to bring the score to 77-42.
The Blue Streaks found no real opportunities to get back into the game. The time expired at the James A. Rhodes Arena with a final score of Akron 97, John Carroll 53.
Walsh led the Zips in scoring with 18 points; Ibitayo also contributed immensely, with 16 points. Abreu, in spite of his ankle injury, was able to net 12 points.
Marshall posted a monster defensive game, with six blocks and a steal. He also finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
It has been an interesting start to the season, and Dambrot knows it. Injuries to two of his key players — forwards Nick Harney and Demetrius Treadwell — have, and will, hurt the team in the long run. Although Abreu has been performing well, he has not been playing at 100 percent since his injury, and Dambrot hopes for that to change.
“If you would have told me we would go into this season with no Nick Harney, no Treadwell, and with Alex (Abreu) at 50 percent, then I would have said, ‘We got some issues,’” Dambrot said.
Still, he remains optimistic.
“The key thing will be when we get those two guys back, and we get 15 pounds off of Abreu,” Dambrot said. “Then we are gonna be all right.”
The Zips will return to action this Thursday, when the team travels to Bayamón, Puerto Rico, to take on Oklahoma State at 10:30 a.m. in the 2012 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.