Robotham's 16 lead Zips past Gamecocks 68-63
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) Akron's Keith Dambrot has had plenty of good teams in his 11 years as coach. None of them achieved what the Zips did at the Charleston Classic.
The Zips (3-1) outlasted South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference 68-63 on Sunday to take third place in the eight-team event - defeating their second Power Five conference opponent in the span of four days after opening with a 66-46 win over Southern Cal of the Pac-12 Conference.
This time, their Southeastern Conference opponent played them tight throughout, erasing a 12-point second half lead when Laimonas Chatkevicius hit a foul shot to tie things at 55-all with 6:55 remaining.
''We have beaten some high major teams,'' said Dambrot, who's won 20 or more games each of the past nine years. ''We've never beaten two in one year.''
Noah Robotham had 16 points, Deji Ibitayo 15 and Kwan Cheatham iced the game with a pair of foul shots with five seconds left.
''We feel like we could get a lot better as we go,'' Dambrot said.
Akron lost to South Carolina twice last year, once in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii on Christmas Day and then a few days later at the Gamecocks' Colonial Life Arena.
''I was scared to death going into the game,'' Dambrot said. ''I thought it was a tough matchup for us. As it turned out, our guys did a good job going north and south instead of east and west.''
Sindarius Thornwell had 13 points to lead South Carolina (2-3).
The Gamecocks were within 66-63 after Thornwell's final basket from long-range with 10 seconds left. However, Cheatham followed with two foul shots to seal the win. Cheatham was Akron's third double-figure scorer with 13 points.
''I was concerned about our `oomph' after our tough loss to Charlotte,'' South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. ''I was concerned we wouldn't have the resolve.''
Akron had built a 12-point lead with less than five minutes gone in the second period. The Gamecocks, though, used a 23-11 run to tie the game at 55-all.
Cheatham said the Zips knew they weren't out of danger when they went up 44-32. ''Basketball is a game of runs. Everybody makes a run,'' he said. ''We knew we just had to stay with it.''
South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell, its leading scorer, had another cold shooting performance. He was 4 of 12 overall against Akron after going 8 of 24 in the loss to Charlotte on Friday night. He is 2 of 14 on 3s in his past two games.
Don't expect Akron to get a bloated ego over its showing in Charleston, not with Keith Dambrot as coach. ''Not with this man. Cruise control?'' Ibitayo said. ''Our main goal is to stay focused.''
Akron made 11 more foul shots than South Carolina. The Zips were 22 of 27 from the free throw line while the Gamecocks were just 11 of 20.
Akron: Zips wearing black uniforms with the nickname ''Zips'' on the back of each one. The team had worn uniforms with their names on the back the first two games at the Charleston Classic.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have protected the basketball this season, averaging just 11.8 turnovers a game to rank fourth in the Southeastern Conference. But they had a season high 17 on Friday night in a loss to Charlotte and had nine in the opening half against Akron and finished with 17.
Akron plays at fellow Charleston Classic participant Penn State on Tuesday night.
South Carolina plays hosts to UNC Asheville on Wednesday night.