Men's basketball team escapes Central Michigan with comeback win

“The University of Akron’s men’s basketball team defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas Tuesday night in comeback style. The Zips (18-7 8-3 MAC) trailed the Chippewas (11-11 6-4 MAC) 52-48 with two minutes to go, but were able to play exceptional defense and score on their end of the floor to get out of Michigan with a 56-52 win.”

The University of Akron’s men’s basketball team defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas Tuesday night in comeback style.

The Zips (18-7 8-3 MAC) trailed the Chippewas (11-11 6-4 MAC) 52-48 with two minutes to go, but were able to play exceptional defense and score on their end of the floor to get out of Michigan with a 56-52 win.

The one thing I will say is we competed when it mattered and we made every play when it mattered, UA head coach Keith Dambrot said in his postgame interview on Fox Sports 1350 AM.

The Zips had a tied game going into the locker rooms despite numerous turnovers and sloppy play.

UA finished the half at a putrid 16.7 percent from three point range.

We played a decent stretch in the first half, but other than that we had our struggles, Dambrot said.

The second half was not much different for the Zips.

Akron still turned the ball over numerous times and did not seem composed.

Luckily for the Zips, Central Michigan could not shoot well from the floor.

The Chippewas shot 28.6 percent from the field and the only player who seemed to put the ball in the bucket was guard Jordan Bitzer who compiled his career 1,000 point during the game.

Bitzer went 8-20 from the field, giving him a total of 20 points on the night.

Guard Steve McNees was a bright spot for the Zips as he was perfect from both the floor and the charity stripe.

McNees went 4-4 from three point range and 4-4 at the line, including two crucial free throws near the end of regulation.

McNees kept us in it with some good three shooting, Dambrot said.

Center Zeke Marshall blocked two shots down the stretch to give Akron extra possessions that they used to win the game.

Marshall raked in nine rebounds and four blocks on the night.

Zeke made some high major players when it mattered, rebounding the ball and then he made a couple big blocks, Dambrot said.

He still has a lot to learn, but he really helped us win at that point.

Despite the low scoring game, Akron managed to have three players in double-digits.

McNees led all Akron scorers with 16 and forward Jimmy Conyers and guard Darryl Roberts both added 11.

It was just one of those games where you had to grind it out and get the W, McNees said.

We didn’t have our best stuff, but it’s good to win games like that sometimes.

Anytime you can knock a few down in a row it kind of gives some hope.

The win gives Akron an overall record of 5-1 against the MAC West in cross-divisional play this season.

The Zips also compiled a 5-1 record against the West last season.

We want to win a championship, but at the same time we want to get better every day so that we are playing our best basketball when that MAC tournament comes, Dambrot said.

The Zips will next play MAC East opponent Ohio in Akron’s lone home game in a five game stretch.

Tip off is set for 2 p.m. at Rhodes Arena on Sunday.