CLEVELAND, OH- The Akron Men’s basketball team won a very close game to the Ball State Cardinals to make it to the MAC Championship Game 74-70. Akron started off fast and made seven quick points causing Ball State to call a timeout, and there was about 18:45 left to go in the first half. However, in the final minutes of the game the Zips were able to survive the Cardinals last run to end the game.
The Zips were led by senior center Isaiah Johnson and junior guard Antino Jackson who both scored 19 points. Isaiah Johnson also added six rebounds, and five assists. The Zips shot 15 for 27 (55.6%) from the court and were 5 for 11 (45.5%) from the 3 point line. Also, Akron senior forward Kwan Cheatham finished with 11 points and made three much needed 3 pointers for the Zips. As a team, Akron shared the ball well and had a total of 13 assists. The Zips were very proficient from the 3 point line shooting an impressive 10 of 15 attempts.
During the second half with around 18 minutes left, Antino Jackson had a big steal to stretch the Zips lead to 8 (43-35). Then, with only about 9 minutes to go in regulation, Kwan Cheatham converted a deep 3 pointer to put the Zips up by 5. With only 5 minutes remaining in the game, Akron was able to come up with another steal and Jimond Ivey made a slam dunk on the other end of the court. The Akron Zips had a total of eight steals which were huge in the outcome of the game. Right after that occurred, Ball State forward Tahjai Teague was able to convert a 3 point play. Antino Jackson came alive in the final minutes of the game making a 3 pointer, a 3 point play and a steal, and Akron was on a run leading 66 to 57 with only 3:00 left to go in the game. Next, Isaiah Johnson made a layup with 54.4 seconds left to go in the game and the Zips were up 70-64. The Cardinals had three chances to make 3 pointers in the final seconds of the game to cut Akron’s lead to 2 but missed all of them. Akron was able to knock down free throws to win the game.
Saturday night the Akron Zips will take on the winner of the Ohio Bobcats Kent State Golden Flashes game for the MAC title at 7:30 pm at Quicken Loans Arena.
Akron Head Coach Keith Dambrot, Antino Jackson, and Isaiah Johnson comment on there win over Ball State, and their expectations going into the MAC Championship game.