By: DJ Johnson
The Akron men’s basketball team entered last weekend with a 2-0 record and matchups against Valparaiso and Duquesne on the horizon.
After the weekend, the Zips sit at 2-2 and will have to wait until Saturday to bounce back from the consecutive losses.
Friday night, Akron could not hold off a resilient Valparaiso team, who trailed by five points with just over four minutes to go. The Crusaders scored the last eight points of the game to steal the 62-59 win.
Saturday was a different story, as Akron trailed for all but six minutes of the game and Duquesne pulled out an 81-76 victory over the Zips.
The pair of losses leaves Akron’s record in the 2011 2K Sports Class at an even 2-2, after early season wins over Mississippi State and Hiram.
Personal fouls haunted UA on Friday night, compiling 18 in the first half and 31 for the game. The Crusaders capitalized hitting 24-of-38 free throws, compared to Akron’s three-of-seven.
The Zips shot a better percentage from the field (43.3 to 41.3 percent) and kept Valparaiso from hitting a three all night (0-14), but it proved to be free throw shooting that ultimately determined the outcome.
Both Zeke Marshall and Nick Harney fouled out of the contest, with three other Akron players tallying four.
Quincy Diggs and Harney led all Zips with 13 points, as point guard Alex Abreu dished out a game-high 10 assists.
A slow start came back to bite Akron on Saturday night, who fell down 20-8 early in the first half.
The Zips, trailing 38-30 at the break, could not overcome the deficit despite shooting 60 percent in the second half. Duquesne would squeak out the five-point victory despite a late run from Akron.
Zeke Marshall led UA with 19 points on seven-of-nine shooting. Brett McClanahan chipped in 18 points for the night.
Akron shot better than Duquesne from the field and from beyond the arc, but made only 14 of 28 free throw attempts.
The road ahead does not get any easier for the Zips, who take on Detroit and West Virginia to close out the month.
Detroit (2-1), whose lone loss came to Notre Dame (59-53), will come to James A. Rhodes Arena on Saturday.
Akron will travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia on Monday, whose only loss was to Kent State (70-60). Mountaineers’ Head Coach Bob Huggins coached the Zips from 1984-1989.