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Simmons' career game helps Ohio hand Akron 1st MAC loss

Point guard scores 25 points in 2nd half alone

ATHENS Ė Jaaron Simmons scored a career-high 38 points, and Ohio took advantage of Akron foul trouble to give the Zips their first Mid-American Conference loss of the season, 85-70, on Saturday before more than 10,000 at The Convo.

The Bobcats (15-7, 6-4 MAC) closed the game on a 12-1 run over the final 1:26 to run away from the Zips, who were called for two technical fouls with 12 seconds left after the game was out of reach.

Isaiah Johnson received one of those and also was called for one as he walked off the court at halftime, accounting for his third personal foul. Akronís leading scorer was limited to 21 minutes, scoring 18 points with five rebounds.

Antino Jackson had 14 points for the Zips (19-4, 9-1 MAC) but missed his last five shots.

Simmons went 10 of 16 from the field, including a perfect 5-of-5 performance from 3-point range, and added 10 rebounds and five assists. Jason Carter had 11 points, Jordan Dartis scored 10 points, and Kenny Kaminski and Gavin Block had nine points each.

"I feel in the zone every game, really," Simmons said. "The shot might not go in every game, but in the zone means doing something to help my team win. If I can do something to help my team win, then I'm in the zone."

Kwan Cheatam had nine points and 13 rebounds for Akron but was just 3 of 18 from the field, including 1 of 10 on 3-pointers. Josh Williams had nine points on 3-of-8 shooting from long range.

Akron led 63-58 on an Emmanuel Olojakpoke basket with seven minutes remaining, but Simmons began an Ohio run with a 3-pointer. Doug Taylorís two free throws tied the game, and Dartis knocked down a 3-pointer to put Ohio ahead 66-63 with 4:31 to go.

Simmons answered a Cheatham layup with one of his own, and after a Cheatham free throw, Kaminski extended the Ohio lead to 71-66 with 2:35 remaining. After a Johnson miss, Simmons scored again to make it 73-66 with less than two minutes left.

Johnson completed a three-point play to make it 73-69 with 1:36 remaining. It was Akronís last field goal.

Simmons made two foul shots 10 seconds later, and Block added one after a Cheatham miss. Jackson missed a 3-pointer, and that led to two more Simmons free throws to make it 78-69 with 1:30 left. Johnson made one foul shot, followed by two more by Simmons to push the margin to 10 with 26 seconds left.

Then after Cheatham was called for an offensive foul, Jimond Ivey was assessed a technical foul, and during Simmonsí free throws, Johnson was called for another. Simmons made 5 of 6 during the exchange and went 13 of 16 at the foul line overall.

Johnson scored in the post in the final seconds of the first half, cutting the Bobcatsí lead to 32-27, but he and Taylor both were called for technical fouls before going to the locker room, an exchange that surely hurt Akron more. It was Johnsonís third personal foul.

Four minutes into the second half, with the Zips then in front, 40-39, Johnson was called for an offensive foul that sent him to the bench for more than 10 minutes of game time.

Johnson came back with the game tied at 63 following Taylorís free throws. His presence, though, did not turn the game as Dartisí 3-pointer capped Ohioís 8-0 run that put it ahead for good. The Bobcats outscored the Zips 27-7 over the final 6:14.

Beginning with a Simmons 3-pointer, Ohio led the entire first half, but never by more than seven points.

Akron had a strong start to the second half and took its biggest lead, 48-42, on back-to-back 3-pointers by Ivey and Williams. A Carter dunk helped stop the Zipsí momentum, and Ohio briefly regained the lead, on two occasions, 52-51 and 54-52.

Simmons hit a tying 3-pointer at the 8:53 mark, and Jackson hit two free throws before Williams 3-pointer that gave Akron a 61-56 advantage with eight minutes left. A minute later, Olojakopokeís basket pushed the lead back to five after a Simmons basket.

Simmons scored 25 points in the second half alone, going 6 of 7 from the field and 11 of 12 at the foul line. His 38 points in a game were the most since D.J. Cooper scored 43 on Dec. 18, 2010.

The Bobcats as a team shot 61.9 percent after halftime after shooting just 37.0 percent in the first half. The Zips shot 37.9 percent for the game, including just 9 of 37 from 3-point range.

"We took them out of scoring in ways they normally score to the best of our ability," Ohio coach Saul Phillips said.

Olojakpoke, Johnson and Ivey all fouled out, and Cheatham and Noah Robotham had four fouls each. Carter fouled out in just 20 minutes for Ohio, while Block and Dartis finished with four fouls each.

Ohio hosts Central Michigan at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

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