CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland State lost for the first time at home this season as Akron returned from a near three-week layoff and defeated the Vikings, 73-61, on Saturday afternoon in the Wolstein Center.
CSU fell to 4-5 this year and lost consecutive games for the first time this season. Akron, which had not played a game since Nov. 16, improved to 2-2.
The Vikings fell to 3-1 at home this year.
Charlie Lee, who missed the last three games with a knee injury, paced the Vikings with 14 points, while Jon Harris was the only other CSU player in double figures with 12 points. Harris added eight rebounds.
The Zips used a stellar effort from three-point, hitting 11-of-22, including 9-of-10 from beyond the arc at one point.
Nick Harney led three Zips in double figures with 15 points, while Demetrius Treadwell had seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
A Mason dunk two and a half minutes in gave CSU a quick 5-2 lead, but Akron responded with a 14-4 run to open up a seven point lead (16-9) midway through the first half.
A Forbes free throw and Mason layup down the lane followed to bring the Vikings back within four, but an Akron bucket, back-to-back three-pointers and a Nick Harney dunk helped the Zips open up a double-digit lead (26-16) with 4:13 left.
The lead reached 11 points (29-18), but a Mason alley-oop dunk from Lee and a Lee three-pointer brought CSU within six (29-23) with under a minute to go in the half.
However, Nyles Evans drained a three-pointer from the top of the key just before the halftime horn sounded, giving the Zips a 32-23 lead at the intermission.
Deji Ibitayo and Reggie McAdams opened the second half with three-pointers as Akron saw its lead grow to 15 points (38-23), forcing a quick CSU timeout. The quick three's helped the Zips maintain a double-digit lead for a majority of the second half. The lead grew to as many as 19 points (55-36) with 10:41 to play.
CSU was able to pull within 12 points (58-46) on a Lee basket with just over four minutes to play, but as they did much of the afternoon, Akron answered on the other end with a Reggie McAdams three-pointer and Treadwell followed with a free throw to push the lead back to 16 points (62-46).
The Vikings answered with six straight to get back within 10 points and tried to extend the game by fouling, but the Zips hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Vikings are now out of action until Dec. 16 when CSU hosts Western Carolina at 7:00 p.m. in the Wolstein Center.