Rebound tip-ins from Reggie McAdams and Jake Kretzer on consecutive possessions in the final three minutes all but sealed a fifth straight Akron win. For Ohio, the two failed boxouts were microcosms of the evening.
Mistakes cost the Bobcats a chance at upsetting the Zips in a 80-68 defeat Tuesday night.
“We lost to the first place team in our division; a team that executed very well all night,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “Our physical and mental breakdowns cost us a chance to go toe-to-toe with them.”
Ohio, the seventh-best free throw shooting team in the Division I, went 12-for-21 from the foul line.
Ohio (13-8, 4-5 MAC) came within one point of Akron in the second half, but couldn’t get a key defensive stop when needed.
“We got ’em into just enough misses that we had our chances,” Phillips said. “We just couldn’t capitalize.”
Bobcat point guard Jaaron Simmons turned the ball over eight times in the loss. The Zips (18-4, 7-2 MAC) frequently double-teamed Simmons coming off pick-and-rolls causing problems, but also opening opportunities for Simmons’ eight assists.
“When we got looks out of it, we got good looks,” Phillips said of Akron’s defensive tactics. “It was feast or famine.”
Ohio forward Tony Campbell went pound-for-pound with Akron big man Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson. Campbell (260 lbs.) recorded a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds against Johnson (285 lbs.) in what was a rematch of a 2013 Cincinnati high school all-star game. Johnson countered Campbell’s line with an 18-point and nine-rebound performance.
Akron was led offensively by freshman guard Josh Williams. His 20 points and three steals in just 19 minutes of play off the bench provided a much-needed spark for the Zips. Phillips had seen Williams play previously on the same AAU team as Ohio freshmen Jordy Dartis and Doug Taylor.
“We were well aware of what he’s capable of, but I did not anticipate it,” Phillips said. “He found himself in some spots and was able to take advantage of it.”
Treg Setty finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, his second of the season. Kenny Kaminski added 12 points for the Bobcats.
Ohio will wrap up the three-game homestand on Saturday when it hosts Northern Illinois (16-6, 5-4 MAC). When the two teams met on January 6, the Huskies defeated the Bobcats 80-69.