ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Akron-Wayne outscored Ohio University Eastern 16-2 during a 2-minute stretch late in the second half Wednesday night and pulled away for a 97-84 victory against the Panthers in a men's basketball encounter at OUE's Fitness Center.
''They were very athletic and I think they wore us down,'' Panthers head coach Donnie Madzia said following the Ohio Regional Conference showdown.
''Our conditioning needs to get better. I was happy without effort, but we just couldn't maintain it over a long period of time.''
Ohio University Eastern’s Devin Ward (2) makes a pass over Akron-Wayne’s Troy Burgan (23) and Shawntrail Smith (52) Wednesday night.
Devin Ward scored a game-high 30 points for OUE (1-3), while Nick Schuetz followed with 21. Danny Neuhart and D'Aundrea Anderson each chipped in 10 points.
Shawntrail Smith paced four players scoring in double figures for the undefeated Warriors with 24. Deshon Hudson added 22 points, while Damonte Hicks had 21 and Jaleel Grimes recorded 10. Hicks had six 3-pointers.
The Panthers trailed by as many as 15 in the second half, but pulled to within three at 74-71 when Shadyside grad Ryan Richardson nailed a jumper with 7:40 remaining.
The basket was part of an 8-2 run for OUE, most of which came from the free throw line. Schuetz, another former Tiger, hit four of them, while Ward, a Bellaire product, nailed two.
The Panthers were just 2 of 3 from he charity stripe in the first half.
''Our rally was just the result of hustle and effort,'' Madzia said. ''We were already in the two-shot bonus with about 9 minutes left.
''We did a good job of getting to the basket and getting 'hustle' points. And, we were rebounding the ball better.''
The rally was shortlived as the Warriors, the defending ORC, champions, exploded to pull away.
The late surge was keyed by Hudson, who scored 10 straight points for his team as Akron-Wayne built an 86-73 advantage. Jazel Garrett capped the spurt with a pair of buckets to make the score 90-73.
''They're in pretty good shape,'' Madzia said of the Warriors. ''My bench is not as deep right now. Hopefully, as the season goes along we'll get a little deeper and be able to rotate more guys in.''
''I really need three scorers,'' he added, pointing out Martins Ferry graduate Cody Schau has yet to play due to injury. ''Devin and Nick have been pretty consistent, but I need another guy.''