KENT, Ohio – Andre Yates scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Demonte Flannigan added 11 points and eight rebounds, but Cleveland State dropped its season opener, 65-53, on Saturday night at the MAC Center.
The game was the second of Saturday's Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer Doubleheader. Host Kent State defeated Youngstown State in the opener.
Flannigan added two steals and two blocked shots, while Vinny Zollo finished with four points and five rebounds.
"Overall, I didn't feel bad about today," head coach Gary Waters said. "I thought we had some freshman jitters in the first half and they took advantage of them. We had a 10-minute stretch where we couldn't score and we turned the ball over.
"At halftime, I told them the score was 0-0 and we were going to go out and compete and win the second half and we did. The last 10 minutes is what we were looking for. The young guys had to figure things out and the only way to do that is to be on the floor and play."
CSU – which features one of the youngest rosters in Division I with just 17 seasons of experience - used a pair of Vinny Zollo baskets and one from Flannigan to take a 6-4 lead three-and-a-half minutes into the contest. However, the Zips would score 15 straight points to build a 21-6 lead 11 minutes in before Aaron Scales hit a free throw with 7:48 left to stop the Viking drought.
The Zips led at halftime, 40-22.
Behind strong pressure defense in the second half, the Vikings cut their deficit to 11 points (49-38) on a Terrell Hales jumper midway through the second half, but Akron responded with a 12-2 run to push the lead back to 21 points with less than six minutes to play.
The Vikings out-scored Akron in the second half, 31-24, while committing just three turnovers in the final 20 minutes after 10 in the first half.
The Vikings return to action on Tuesday (Nov. 17) when CSU hosts Malone at 7:00 pm in the Wolstein Center in the home opener.