Nick Harney scored nine of his 15 points in the second half as he lead the Akron Zips to a 65-43 victory against Western Michigan in their Mid-American Conference opener Wednesday night at James A. Rhodes Arena.
The win was the sixth-straight for the Zips (10-4, 1-0 MAC) and the eight-straight both at home and in the series against the Broncos (8-6, 0-1 MAC).
Harney led four Zips in double figures, including Brian Walsh, Alex Abreu and Pat Forsythe, who scored 12 a piece. Walsh added six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Abreu finished with five assists, two rebounds and shot 60.0 percent from the 3-point line (3-of-5).
Forsythe tied Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell with a game-high eight rebounds in addition to one assist and one steal. Zeke Marshall ended with five points, four rebounds and two blocks while battling foul trouble.
Akron shot an impressive 56.0 percent (14-of-25) from the field in the second half to out-score WMU 40-24 in the final 20 minutes. They also dominated the boards against the league's top rebounding team, out-rebounding the visiting Broncos 41-30.
Austin Richie led Western Michigan with 11 points.
Both teams struggled to gain the advantage in the opening exchanges of the first half as the Zips shot just 22.2 percent (4-of-18) during the first 10 minutes of the game. They played stifling defense however, holding the Broncos just four field goals in the same amount of time.
The Zips took a 25-19 lead into halftime with both teams playing solid defense and shooting poorly from the field. Akron shot 29.4 percent (10-of-34) while Western Michigan shot just 28.0 percent (7-of-25). The Zips defense forced Western Michigan into nine turnovers and UA's bench outscored WMU's 9-0.
Akron hit its first four shots of the second half as Walsh and Harney each made 3-point field goals helping Akron jump out to a 35-19 lead following a 10-0 run.
Building off a strong start to the second half, the Zips, with 11:45 remaining had improved to 40.4 percent (19-of-47) from the field and had made four 3-pointers including two from Nick Harney.
With just under four minutes to go, Akron increased its advantage to 59-35 thanks to a combined ten points from Abreu and Forsythe.
The Zips finished the game shooting 40.7 percent from the field (24-of-59), including 35.0 percent (7-of-20) from beyond the arc and 62.5 percent (10-of-16) from the free throw line.
Akron hits the road on Saturday, January 12, when it travels to take on Northern Illinois at 4 p.m. ET in DeKalb, Illinois.