For the seventh time in as many seasons Akron has won 20 games thanks to a 79-68 victory over Bowling Green on Wednesday night at Rhodes Arena in a Mid-American Conference match-up.
The Zips (20-8, 12-1 MAC) are just one of 12 Division-I programs (out of 345) to have won 20-plus games in each of the last seven seasons. The victory also secured a bye to the MAC tournament quarterfinals next month.
The win, coupled with Buffalo's loss to Ohio tonight, gives the Zips a chance to claim their first-ever MAC regular-season title on Sunday when they face Ohio in Athens on ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET.
Zeke Marshall led the way with 16 points, seven boards and one blocked shot as five Akron players scored in double figures. Brian Walsh, Alex Abreu and Nikola Cvetinovic all had 12 points while Demetrius Treadwell finished with 10 points.
Akron closed the game shooting 57.1 percent on 28-of-49 shooting. UA won the rebounding battle 35-25 and had 19 assists on 28 buckets. The Zips also dominated points in the paint, 42-28.
A'ustin Calhoun led Bowling Green (14-13, 7-6 MAC) with 18 points.
The second half started with the Falcons cutting the Zips' lead to three points (45-42). However, UA answered that run with its own run (6-0) to force a BGSU timeout with 16:11 left in the game and a 51-42 lead.
Bowling Green cut the lead to 51-46 by the 15:45 mark before Akron used a 9-2 run to take a 12-point lead (60-48) with 11:16 to go. Akron would maintain a lead of no less than seven points, including a double-digit advantage during most of the stretch, heading into the final media timeout (3:56).
The Falcons made one final push for the lead, closing the gap to 67-64 with 2:17 left, but Walsh and Treadwell both hit layups off BG turnovers to give UA a seven-point cushion. The Zips would go 8-of-8 at the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the win.
Both teams shot the ball well over the first 9:19, combining to go 15-of-26 from the field (57.5 percent). The Zips were able to open up a seven-point lead (21-14) coming out of the under-12 timeout (11:30).
After BGSU cut the Akron lead to three points (21-18) with 10:16 to go in the half, the Zips forced the Falcons to use their first timeout of the game thanks to an 8-2 run to take a 29-20 lead (8:10). The UA lead would grow to 10 points on several occasions before BGSU once again cut it to three points (39-36), this time with 1:34 left before the intermission.
Marshall scored the final four points of the half, giving Akron a 43-36 advantage heading into the locker room.
The Zips shot 60.6 percent (20-of-33) over the first 20 minutes and scored 32 of their 43 points in the paint. UA held a 16-12 rebounding edge and turned the ball over just four times.