ATHENS, OH (WOIO) - For the third straight road game, the
battled to the last possession, coming up short in an 83-82 decision at
on Wednesday night.
The Zips, winning their last two road games inside the final 30 seconds, could not make it three in a row as Deji Ibitayo's jumper for the win with less than three seconds left was off the mark.
Ibitayo led the Zips with a career high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Noah Robotham and Pat Forsythe added 11 points for Akron.
Akron (15-7, 6-3 MAC) shot 46.4 percent from the floor (32-of-69) and 50.0 percent from 3-point range, hitting 18-of-36. The 18 made long balls was one short of the school record of 19 (vs. Denison, Dec. 7, 2005).
Ohio (8-12, 3-6 MAC) shot 51.9 percent from the floor (28-of-54) and 61.1 percent from long range (11-of-18). The Bobcats won the rebounding battle, 36-34, and had 11 turnovers to Akron's 12.
Javarez Willis led all players with 31 points.
Ohio opened a 9-3 at the 16:32 mark of the opening half before back-to-back buckets by Robotham and Forsythe cut the Bobcat lead to one (9-8) less than a minute later.
Akron used an 11-2 run to take its first lead of the game at 19-15 (12:46), a lead that would grow to 36-27 by the 6:55 mark. Back-to-back turnovers by Akron would allow Ohio to close the gap to 36-32 with 5:40 to go in the half. Robotham would hit his second 3-pointer of the half to end the drought.
A put-back by B.J. Gladden would give the Zips a 43-32 lead with 3:49 on the clock, forcing Ohio to call its first timeout of the half. Akron would take a 10-point advantage into the locker room (47-37).
Ohio opened the second half on a 12-4 run to close the gap to 51-49 with 16:49 to go. A Forsythe 3-pointer at the 15:41 mark ended the Bobcat run. The made long ball was the first of Forsythe's career.
The Zips answered with a 9-3 run of their own to push their lead back to 11 (63-52) by the 12:27 mark. Another run by Ohio trimmed the Akron advantage to just three (66-63), forcing the Zips to call a timeout with 8:22 remaining.
Ibitayo answered with a 3-pointer to put Akron up six with 8:05 on the clock. The bucket was his fifth of the game (six attempts).
Nine-straight points by Willis would give Ohio a 72-69 lead with 5;59 to go in the game. Maurice Ndour and Stevie Taylor would give the Bobcats a 76-69 lead before a Forsythe bucket with 4:52 end the Ohio run.
After Ohio pushed its lead to 10 points (81-71) with 2:31 on the clock, Nyles Evans made a layup and the Zips called timeout. Following an Ohio turnover, Aaron Jackson's 3-pointer made it a five-point game (81-76) with just over a minute remaining.
Taylor would make it a six-point game at the free throw line before a Reggie McAdams trey cut the Ohio advantage to three (82-79) with 44 seconds left. Following a second Taylor free throw, Jake Kretzer made it a one-point game (83-82) with 8.7 to go with a 3-pointer from the corner.
Akron would force an Ohio turnover with 5.6 left, setting up the final play. Ibitayo would drive to the rim, but his jumper would come up short as Ohio would down Akron, 83-82.
The Zips open a two-game home stand on Saturday, Feb. 7, when they play host to Buffalo. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Zips Notebook: Deji Ibitayo's previous high of 17 points came earlier this season at Penn State (Nov. 25, 2014) ... the loss snapped a three-game winning streak overall and a two-game winning streak for the Zips at the Convocation Center.