ATHENS, Ohio – Playing as a ranked team for the first time in program history, the Akron Zips passed their first test thanks to an 88-81 overtime win over Ohio on Wednesday in a Mid-American Conference East Division showdown at the Convocation Center.
Akron (23-4, 13-0 MAC) extended its winning streak to a nation's-best 19 games, in addition to breaking the MAC record for the best start to league play in the conference's 65 years of existence.
Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell led the charge with a career-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out two assists in leading four Zips in double figures.
Jake Kretzer also set a career-high with 19 points, going 6-of-6 from the floor and 5-of-5 from long range. Zeke Marshall and Alex Abreu finished with 16 points each. Marshall, who fouled out with 47.8 seconds left in regulation, added seven boards and four blocked shots while Abreu dished out a game-high nine dimes.
D.J. Cooper led Ohio (20-8, 11-2 MAC) with 26 points.
The Zips opened the second half on a 10-4 run to force Ohio to call its second timeout with 16:38 mark with the Bobcats' lead down to five (45-40). The highlight of the run was a Marshall blocked shot of Reggie Keely's dunk attempt, opening up Nick Harney for the uncontested fastbreak dunk. Kretzer extended the run to 13-4 with his second 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 45-43 by the first media timeout of the second half.
The run climbed to 19-4 as Akron opened up a 49-45 lead by the 13:57 mark. The Zips' defense held the Bobcats without a field goal for 6:12 on the clock before a Jon Smith lay-up ended the run. Ohio tied the game briefly at 49-all before Abreu put the Zips back on top with a long 3-pointer (11:49).
After the Zips opened several six-point leads, Ohio tied the game at 63-63 with 6:18 remaining on back-to-back 3-pointers by Cooper. Kretzer's fifth 3-pointer of the night pushed Akron back in front, 66-63, with 4:46 to go in the game.
This one came down to the end of regulation. The Zips had a shot to extend their lead, but Harney's shot would just miss. Smith would tie the game at 72-all with 0.7 seconds left to send this one into overtime.
Akron opened up a 76-72 lead early in overtime, converting on two of its first three possessions. Treadwell gave the Zips a 79-73 lead with 2:16 left with an old fashion 3-point play, his 20th point of the night.
The Zips kept Ohio at bay from the charity stripe, holding an 87-81 lead with 41.6 left in the game. Akron would hold on for the 88-81 win in overtime.
Akron opened up an early 7-0 lead to force the Bobcats to call the first timeout of the game just 1:19 into the contest. The Zips scored on their next possession to make it 9-0. The Bobcats would answer and tie the game at 9-9 with 13:51 on the clock.
By the under-12 media timeout, the score remained tied at 13-13. Ohio used the game's third 9-0 run to open up a 22-13 advantage with 8:47 remaining in the opening half.
After a Kretzer 3-pointer with 5:37 on the clock cut the OU lead to 26-16, the Bobcats would hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open up a 32-16 advantage with 4:41 remaining to force an Akron timeout.
The Zips would win the final 4:41 to cut the Bobcat lead to 41-30 by halftime. Treadwell led the Zips with 10 points and three rebounds, while Marshall pitched in with seven points, three boards and one blocked shot.
Both teams shot the ball well over the first 20 minutes, with the Zips connecting on 52.2 percent (12-of-23) and the Bobcats shooting 56.0 percent (14-of-25). UA was forced into six turnovers compared to three by Ohio.
The Zips will conclude the final regular-season road trip of the season when they travel to Buffalo, N.Y., to face the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday, March 2. Tip off is set for 6 p.m. ET on SportsTime Ohio.
Zips Notebook: Zeke Marshall, with four blocked shots, broke his own school record with his 96th swat of the season ... the last Zips' player to shoot 100 percent from long range on at least five attempts was Steve McNees against Miami (Ohio) on Jan. 5, 2008 ... the Zips' 13-0 start to MAC play is the best since Miami (Ohio) went 12-0 to start league play during the 1957-58 season ... UA's 19-game winning streak is the second-longest in MAC history.