CINCINNATI -The University of Cincinnati women's basketball team used a scorching start and a strong second half from Dayeesha Hollins to improve to 6-4 with an 86-70 victory over Akron on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Arena. Hollins finished with 25 points while becoming the 25th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points at UC.
Hollins' (Cincinnati, Ohio/Winton Woods) total, which included 18 second-half points, were a game high. The senior also dished out seven assists and grabbed four rebounds. Classmate Jeanise Randolph (Chicago, Ill./Thornton Fractional North) joined Hollins with 20-plus points, scoring 23 while grabbing 12 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Alyesha Lovett (Newark, N.J./Malcolm X Shabazz) and Kayla Cook (South Webster, Ohio/South Webster) also scored in double figures at 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Akron (4-5) was led by 24 points from Hanna Luburgh, who dueled with Hollins in the second half, scoring 15 of her points in the final 20 minutes. Luburg also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds. Rachel Tecca added 12 points and six boards for the Zips.
The Bearcats got off to a blistering start, hitting seven of their first eight shots to build a 16-3 lead in the first 4:30. Hollins was the key cog, assisting on five of the seven scores while making one basket herself. The lead would get to 19-3 before the Zips got back on the board with a Luburgh three-pointer with 13:50 left in the half.
UC would cool off as the half wore on, with Akron heating up. The Zips outscored the Bearcats, 27-17, over the remainder of the half, including runs of 9-0 and 7-0. That led to a halftime margin of 36-30 in UC's favor after the Bearcats shot 44-percent (14-32) for the period. After missing seven of their first eight shots, the Zips hit 10 of their next 24 attempts to finish the half at 38-percent (11-29).
Akron cut the UC lead to one, 38-37, early in the second half, but the Bearcats responded. Randolph scored, before a Cook three was followed by a layup from Hollins and another basket from Randolph to push the lead back to 10, 47-37, forcing an Akron timeout with just over 16 minutes left. The one-point deficit was the closest the Zips would get.
Cincinnati continued to build the lead, using a 17-5 run in just over six minutes, to go up 55-42 with 11:23 to play. During the run, the Bearcats connected on seven-of-nine shots from the field.
Akron was not going to go away, cutting it to 59-52 with 8:30 remaining by virtue of an 8-2 run that included three-pointers from Luburgh and Carly Young. Two free throws from Kacie Cassell cut the UC lead to four, 64-60, with just over six minutes remaining, but Hollins answered the charge by drilling a three to push the lead back to seven, 67-60.
After Luburgh scored again for the Zips, Hollins got three more, this time the old fashioned way, before a layup from Lovett forced an Akron timeout with exactly five minutes remaining and UC leading, 72-62.
The lead would stay relatively comfortable for the Bearcats over the closing minutes, with Akron getting no closer than 12 during the final stretch. The 86 points scored by the Bearcats are the most under fifth-year head coach Jamelle Elliott. The victory also gives UC a 4-0 mark against opponents from the state of Ohio in the year, following previous victories over Ohio State, Youngstown State and Kent State.
Next up for UC is a trip to Xavier for the Skyline Chili Crosstown Classic on Saturday, Dec. 21. Tipoff at XU's Cintas Center is set for 2:00 p.m. After a trip to UConn on Sunday, Dec. 29, the Bearcats return home on Wednesday, Jan. 1 versus SMU. Tickets for the 1:00 p.m. game are available by calling 1-877-CATS-TIX or visiting GoBEARCATS.com/tickets.