Men's basketball: Ohio runs out of steam
Bobcats force OT, but Akron pulls away, pads MAC East lead
Ohio’s Nick Kellogg looks to pass over Akron’s Reggie McAdams. Ohio tied the score late in regulation but was outscored 16-9 in overtime.
ATHENS, Ohio — More than an hour before tipoff last night, hundreds of Ohio University students lined up to get inside the Convocation Center and get the best seats. Other fans hustled after parking spots as if they were competing on a game show.
A crowd of 11,109 that at times created enough noise to rival a rock concert came to see if Ohio could defeat Akron and tie the Zips for first place in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division.
It was bedlam when the Bobcats took a 16-point lead in the first half. In the end, though, Akron’s impressive combination of athletic big men, accurate three-point shooters and depth proved to be too much in an 88-81 overtime victory over the Bobcats.
The Zips (23-4, 13-0) ran the nation’s longest winning streak to 19 games and took a two-game lead over Ohio (20-8, 11-2) with three games remaining in the regular season.
John Smith of Grove City forced overtime for Ohio with a tip-in with 0.7 of a second remaining to make it 72-72, but Akron dominated the extra period. It was a crushing loss for a team that wanted to win Ohio’s first regular-season MAC title since 1994.
“At this point, (our destiny) is pretty much out of our hands,” senior guard Walter Offutt said. “That’s hard to say, but no one is feeling sorry for us. We’ve got to get ready for Bowling Green and get a possible second seed (for the MAC tournament).”
Ohio took a 26-13 lead with 6:02 left in the first half on two free throws by guard D.J. Cooper. At one point, Akron failed to score for over 12 minutes after taking a 9-0 lead. The Bobcats’ lead grew to 34-16 with 4:21 left in the half on a fast-break dunk by Reggie Keely.
But the Zips didn’t panic. They beat the Bobcats 86-72 on Feb. 2 after trailing by 13 points in the first half.
“We’ve had quite a few games like this, and you have to stay together,” Akron forward Demetrius Treadwell said. “We know we’re never out of a game. We were a lot more aggressive in the second half. We attacked them when we had the ball.”
Treadwell, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound junior, was a beast with 21 points and eight rebounds. Seven-foot center Zeke Marshall had 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
Akron was also slick from the perimeter, making nine three-pointers. Freshman Jake Kretzer hit 5 of 5 from three-point range and finished with 19 points.
Ohio coach Jim Christian was disappointed with his team’s toughness down the stretch. Akron took control in overtime on a three-point play by Treadwell to lead 79-73 with 2:20 left.
“In the first half we played as well as we have in a month,” Christian said. “We came out of character in the second half emotionally. We didn’t attack the way we did in the first half. I think they just out-toughed us the last three minutes of the game, and that’s disappointing.”
Cooper, who led Ohio with 26 points, talked about retribution in the conference tournament.
“We have to keep our eyes on the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “This will make us hungry. We want to play (Akron) again.”