AKRON, Ohio -- Ball State senior center Majok Majok scored 15 points Wednesday, but Akron’s front line was hard to contain in a 73-46 road loss for the Cardinals.
Akron forwards Demetrius Treadwell (15 points), Nick Harney (15) and Kwan Cheatham Jr. (14) combined for 44 points to carry the Zips over the Cardinals for the second time in the early portion of the Mid-American Conference slate.
The MAC East Division-leading Zips organized a “Purple Out” at Rhodes Arena with the crowd of more than 3,000 wearing purple in support of Akron director of basketball operations Dan Peters and his fight with pancreatic cancer.
The Zips (14-6, 6-1 MAC) rode the energy to 48.1 percent shooting from the floor and made good on 10 of 24 attempts from 3-point range (41.7 percent). Ball State (4-14, 1-6 MAC) entered the game having held its previous three opponents to 5 for 35 from beyond the arc.
“I give great credit to Akron; they were really charged up,” said Peters’ friend and Ball State head coach James Whitford, who, along with his staff, also wore purple. “That’s the best I have seen them play this season. They really put it all together, and then with the way they shot the ball tonight, they were going to be hard to beat.”
Ball State got off to a fast start and held an early 12-6 lead, but Akron quickly took command by scoring 13 straight points and 24 of the next 26. The Cardinals suffered through a 1-for-9 shooting stretch and committed five turnovers during that run that lasted just less than nine minutes. The Zips eventually took a 35-19 lead into the break.
The Cardinals again started strong in the second half, scoring on six of their first seven possessions and cutting the gap to six at 39-33 on a 3-pointer from Zavier Turner with 16:09 to play. Akron, though, responded by scoring 15 unanswered points to build its advantage to 54-33 and never saw its lead shrink to fewer than 19 the rest of the way.
“We didn’t have our best night, and we certainly weren’t able to put 40 minutes together,” Whitford said. “Akron is such a tough team to play against because they are so deep. They really have built a true program with talent up and down their roster.”
Majok ended his night 7 of 9 from the floor, but the rest of the Cardinals combined to shoot 10 for 39 as Ball State finished the game shooting 34.7 percent as a team. Turner connected on 3 of 4 from 3-point range to score nine points, while Franko House, Jesse Berry and Chris Bond each scored six. Bond had a streak of seven straight double-figure scoring games snapped.
Akron held a 34-28 advantage on the glass, although Ball State limited the Zips to six offensive rebounds and no second-chance points. House led the Cardinals with seven rebounds.
Ball State, which has played four of its first six MAC games on the road, will now return home for four of the next five. The Cardinals will begin that stretch by hosting Northern Illinois for a 2 p.m. tipoff Saturday at Worthen Arena.