Win turned over to Minutemen

“The University of Akron men’s basketball team fell to the Massachusetts Minutemen 68-63 Saturday in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, ending the Zips’ 2007-08 season. The game consisted of scoring runs by both teams. UA (24-11) led by double digits with less then 10 minutes left in the game, but UMass (23-10) went on a nine-point run to cut the Zips’ lead to 58-55 with 4:45 remaining in the game.”

The University of Akron men’s basketball team fell to the Massachusetts Minutemen 68-63 Saturday in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, ending the Zips’ 2007-08 season.

The game consisted of scoring runs by both teams. UA (24-11) led by double digits with less then 10 minutes left in the game, but UMass (23-10) went on a nine-point run to cut the Zips’ lead to 58-55 with 4:45 remaining in the game. UMass guard Chris Lowe capped a 19-2 run by converting a pair of free throws to give the Minutemen a 65-60 lead with 2:38 left in regulation. The Zips had a chance to tie the game at 66 with less then 20 seconds to go, but senior Jeremiah Wood’s 3-pointer was off the mark

UMass’s comeback was spearheaded by a tenacious defensive effort that forced UA into a host of turnovers late in the second half. The Zips committed 16 turnovers in the game compared to 10 assists.

It went right to the wire and (we) could’ve won the game, UA head coach Keith Dambrot said in his post-game interview on Sportsradio 1350 AM WARF. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t bounce well (and) we made some bad plays in the last five minutes.

Wood led the Zips with a career-high 25 points in his final collegiate game. The senior captain and junior Nate Linhart led the team in rebounding with six each.

He was great, Dambrot said of Wood’s performance. They had no answer in there. They rotated three or four guys on him, and he killed every one of them.

Senior guard Cedrick Middleton scored 14 points and hit two 3-pointers in his 130th and final game in a Zips’ uniform. Fellow senior guard Nick Dials managed only three points in 38 minutes while registering five turnovers and only two assists. Dials ended his UA career with 1,087 career points.

Dambrot said that fatigue played a factor in the team’s inability to secure the victory.

I thought we just ran out of gas there at the end, the Zips’ fourth-year head coach said. But, hey, we got punched in the mouth early and rallied back, and just showed the toughness that this team’s had all year.

The loss ended a two-week stretch of tournament play for the Zips that saw UA advance to and fall in the Mid-American Tournament Championship to Kent State 74-55 before winning the second postseason game in school history. The Zips defeated Florida State in overtime 65-60 in the first round of the NIT on March 18.

UA’s 24 wins this season marked the third consecutive time the program has exceeded 20 wins in a season. The team has participated in the NIT two of the last three seasons, advancing to the second round in 2006, before being eliminated by the Creighton Bluejays.


” #1.1361150:4265576818.jpg:middleton_cedrick_007.jpg:Cedrick Middleton:Jeff Harwell / Zips Sports Photography”