Akron Survive Against Underdog USC Upstate, 64-60
Submitted by Tom Myrick
Division I newcomers USC Upstate stretched one of the BP Top of the World Classic top teams, the University of Akron, to its limit on Saturday, but the Zips survived a late charge to snatch the game, 64-60. Upstate had three open looks at a potential game-tying three pointer with under 30 seconds to go, but neither Luke Payne, Bobby Davis, nor Jeremy Byrd could get their long range shot to fall, as the Spartans drop to 0-2 on the year.
Akron (1-0) received a dominating double-double performance from senior Jeremiah Wood, who logged a game-high 23 points on eight of 12 shooting to go with his 10 rebounds. Fellow senior Quade Milum also contributed 14 points, helping to compensate for a 5-for-17 night from the Zips' Nick Dials and Cedrick Middleton.
Akron seized control of the game early, taking advantage of some sloppy play from Upstate in the first half, establishing a 23-12 lead as the Spartans went nearly four minutes without a bucket. In fact, it seemed for most of the game that it would be a comfortable victory for Akron, who never trailed in the game.
But the Zips could never completely put away the upstart Spartans, missing crucial free throws down the stretch to give Upstate hope. Down 12 with just under nine minutes to go, the Spartans embarked on a 15-6 run to bring the game within striking distance, but could not hit their shots when it mattered most, finishing the game at just 33 percent from behind the arc.
Senior Luke Payne led Upstate with 17 points, while German native Nick Schneiders added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Akron now meets the winner of tonight's heavyweight Portland State/IUPUI encounter on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. The loser of that match will face USC Upstate Saturday at 2:30.