Zips beat Cardinals for seventh straight win

“By Vincent Dorsey vdorsey@buchtelite.com The University of Akron men’s basketball led wire-to-wire in a 63-55 win against Ball State last night to record its seventh consecutive victory. After taking a 34-27 halftime lead, the Zips (16-8, 7-3 Mid-American Conference) withstood a Cardinal run that cut UA’s lead to 52-50 with 3:52 remaining in the game.”

By Vincent Dorsey

vdorsey@buchtelite.com

The University of Akron men’s basketball led wire-to-wire in a 63-55 win against Ball State last night to record its seventh consecutive victory.

After taking a 34-27 halftime lead, the Zips (16-8, 7-3 Mid-American Conference) withstood a Cardinal run that cut UA’s lead to 52-50 with 3:52 remaining in the game. The Zips responded with six straight points to secure the victory.

We just gutted it out, junior forward Chris McKnight said. Making that run and stopping them on defense was key. Locking up on defense was our main focus.

UA head coach Keith Dambrot said the team’s improved confidence has allowed it to play better at the late stages of games during the winning streak.

We just looked like a team that knew how to win, Dambrot said. We’re a more confident team, there’s no question about it. We have a better idea of how to win.

The Zips defeated the Cardinals playing strong defense, much as they have the majority of the season.

UA offset their own poor shooting (18-of-48 from the field) by holding BSU to 21-of-54 shooting inside the arc.

They had a pretty good three-to-four minute stretch, but we just weathered the storm, Dambrot said.

UA converted 21-of-28 free throws in the game, including 15 in the second half. The Cardinals converted 6-of-10, all in the first half.

Junior forward Chris McKnight led the Zips in scoring with 13 points while recording his tenth-straight double figure game. Senior Nate Linhart led the team with 11 rebounds.

The Cardinals were led offensively by senior guard Rob Giles, who scored 17 points. Freshman Jarrod Jones recorded a team-high 12 rebounds.

UA freshman point guard Humpty Hitchens said the team’s confidence and familiarity with one another has allowed each player to play within his role, something that didn’t always occur earlier in the season.

Nate, earlier in the year, was trying to score, Hitchens said. I was trying to score. (Now) Coach said we are scoring less, but doing more.

The Zips, who with the win are tied for second in the MAC East with Miami (Ohio), will play their final MAC West opponent of the regular season Sunday at Northern

Illinois. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

Call senior sports writer Vincent Dorsey:

330-972-7395

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