“PORTLAND: For a half, it appeared that the University of Akron men’s basketball team’s memorable season was going to include another chapter to be written Saturday night, but Gonzaga used a 19-to-1 run on their way to defeating the Zips 77-64 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.””
PORTLAND: For a half, it appeared that the University of Akron men’s basketball team’s memorable season was going to include another chapter to be written Saturday night, but Gonzaga used a 19-to-1 run on their way to defeating the Zips 77-64 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Zips led 38-35 after 20 minutes, shooting 46.7 percent (14-of-30) from the field and hitting 5-of-10 3-pointers, but could not sustain their hot shooting in the final period.
The Zips (23-13) shot only 26 percent (7-of-27) from the field in the second half, allowing Gonzaga (27-5) to get out in the open floor and score 14 points in transition.
If we can get out and run, that’s when we’re at our best, GU head coach Mark Few said. What you saw (during the run) was a lot of transition buckets and that kind of gets our guys going.
UA head coach Keith Dambrot said his team’s inability to extend the lead when GU was struggling in the first half, coupled with the onset of fatigue, doomed the Zips’ chances at the upset bid.
When you have a team like that scrambling and on the ropes a little bit, you can’t let them off the hook, Dambrot said.
The Zips were outrebounded 31-to-22, with the Bulldogs grabbing 25 UA miscues. GU outscored UA in the paint, 30-to-20.
Dambrot said that while the Zips were at a distinct size disadvantage inside, the team needed to run more of its offense through the low post.
We forgot where our bread and butter is, which is the low block, he said. To Gonzaga’s credit, they played to their strengths.
GU senior forward Josh Heytvelt scored a game-high 22 points while sophomore guard Darryl Roberts led the Zips with 19 points.
Senior forward Nate Linhart, the team’s lone non-returning player, scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds in his final collegiate game.
While visibly shaken by the end of his UA career, the team’s accomplishments this season were not lost on Linhart after the game.
I’m really, really proud of our team, he said. If you had told me a few times this year that we’d end up in the NCAA tournament right now, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I’ll remember this year forever.
While acknowledging that his young Zips exceeded almost everyone’s expectations for the season, Dambrot said the team’s resiliency was evident throughout the year, and he expects the team to bounce back strong next season.
We were dead in the water about 55 times this year and we came roaring back, and we’ll come back again.