[Ayden Crowley | WOUB]

Strong second half lifts Ohio over Akron for a huge 74-67 upset victory

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio (16-12, 10-5 MAC) returned to the Convocation Center and pulled off a massive 74-67 upset victory over the Akron Zips (20-8, 12-3 MAC) in front of the home fans. 

The Zips have remained in the top spot of the MAC standings for the entire season and looked to repeat the Jan. 23 67-58 victory over the Bobcats.

Ohio started the night slow. Akron played a very effective defense that led to Ali Ali and Greg Trimble putting up crucial baskets inside the paint.

The Bobcats struggled in the 1st half, going into the break trailing 35-29.

However, Ohio would flip the script towards their favor in the second.

Ohio guard Jaylin Hunter (12) shoots a layup through contact against the Akron Zips.
Ohio guard Jaylin Hunter (12) shoots a layup through contact against the Akron Zips. [Shamar Semple | WOUB]
Ohio was aggressive throughout the second. At one point, with the Bobcats were down by 10, senior Jaylin Hunter would go on 10-0 run by himself tying the game up 50-50. 

Hunter said that the second half proved that the team has shown the capability to stay in those close games. 

“I think we’ve shown resilience throughout the year,” Hunter said. “With a team of that caliber, just to see our hard work pay off was really big.” 

Hunter finished the night with 23 points, six assists, and two steals in the effort. Though he wasn’t alone making an impact. 

A.J. Clayton was a dominant force on both sides of the ball racking up four blocks and finishing with 18 points. Clayton turned this effort into points from beyond the arc, and even in the paint with a huge alley-oop dunk in the fast break.

“I know when I point up, he was going to throw it,” Clayton said. “I knew from half-court he was going to throw it, so I was ready.” 

With the victory, Ohio moved up to the third spot in the MAC with only three games left in the regular season. With the next game against Bowling Green being the last at home, head coach Jeff Boals said that seniors Jaylin Hunter and Miles Brown will leave behind a lasting legacy.

“You always wonder what it’s going to be like,” Boals said. “Those two guys have been special guys, especially Miles who’s been with me for five years. Jaylin to come after Mark Sears leaves to become the point guard has shown his growth as a person and a player, it’s just a really cool thing to see as a coach.”  

Ohio will take on the Bowling Green Falcons on Mar. 1 in Athens for the final home game of the season.