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Ohio's comeback at Akron falls short 83-77

Bobcats trailed by 19 in 2nd half, got as close as 4

AKRON – Ohio closed a 19-point second-half deficit to four, but Akron held on for an 83-77 victory Saturday at James A. Rhodes Arena.

The Zips (15-6, 7-1 Mid-American Conference) got a huge 32-point, 15-rebound performance from Enrique Freeman to hold off the balanced Bobcats (11-10, 3-5 MAC).

Jaylin Hunter led Ohio with 16 points and five assists, while Miles Brown and AJ Brown had 15 points each. Dwight Wilson II added 14 points but fouled out with 3:06 remaining.

Akron matched its biggest lead on a Freeman layup that made it 52-33 with 18:20 to go. Ohio immediately followed with an 8-0 run that included a Wilson basket inside and then back-to-back Hunter 3-pointers.

Miles Brown connected on a jumper at the 12:24 mark to make a single-digit game at 59-50. Akron was able to maintain an advantage of at least eight points until late.

Hunter’s 3-pointer with 1:50 to cut Ohio’s deficit to 76-71, and after a pair of Freeman free throws, Hunter struck again from deep to make it a four-point game with 1:10 left.

Freeman had the answer for the Zips with a jumper in the paint, and the Bobcats got no closer.

Despite falling into a big hole, the Bobcats started fairly well and led 15-13 on a Wilson putback basket after six minutes.

Akron gradually built a lead during the middle of the first half and then went on a big run to take command. Trendon Hankerson had consecutive 3-pointers to make it 34-23. After two baskets by Freeman, Nate Johnson capped a span of 13 straight Zips points with a 3-pointer that made it 41-23 at the 3:07 mark.

Xavier Castaneda hit a 3-pointer to put the lead at 44-25, and Akron went to the locker room ahead 47-30.

Castaneda scored 16 points and Hankerson 14 for the Zips.

Akron shot 56.0% in the game, including 63.0% in the first half. The Zips were 9 of 16 (56.3%) from 3-point range. Ohio finished at 51.8% from the field.

The Bobcats search for their first MAC road win when they take on Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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