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Akron vs. St. Francis (Pa.) - Liveblog

By Michael Beaven Published: December 20, 2009

Men’s Basketball
Hello University of Akron Zips fans, this is Michael Beaven from the Akron Beacon Journal and I am filling in for Mike Rasor at the Sunday afternoon men’s basketball game against St. Francis (Pa.) at Rhodes Arena.
Keep refreshing for updates.
St. Francis Starters -- Sorena Orandi, Umar Shannon, Anthony Ervin, Will Felder and Cedric Latimer.
Akron Starters -- Steve McNees, Darryl Roberts, Brett McKnight, Jimmy Conyers and Zeke Marshall.
First Half
The Zips lead 13-4 with 14:33 remaining in the first half. McNees hit two 3-pointer and Conyers had a short jumper and a 3-pointer.
McNees and Conyers have led the Zips to a 18-9 lead with 11:29 remaining in the first half.
Marshall blocked a layup attempt with 11:08 to go.
Conyers is playing very well, he got a steal, a layup and made free throw to extend the lead to 23-12 with 8:25 left.
Chris McKnight made a layup to make it 25-12. Conyers has scored eight points and the beatdown is officially on.
The lead has grown to 32-12. McNees has nine points, Conyers has eight and Chris McKnight has six.
A 3-pointer by Brett McClanahan made it 35-12 with 4:20 left. The Zips are on a 17-0 run. Red Flash called a timeout.
Mike Bardo just converted a tip-in with 1:56 remaining. The score is 40-14.
We have reached halftime. Akron leads 40-18. I think it is safe to project a Zips victory.
The ABJ's Tom Gaffney just said to me jokingly, "I'm going to go take a nap for an hour, wake me up with about a minute to go in the game."
Halftime Stats
- McNees leads all scorers with nine points, Conyers has eight points and McClanahan has six points.
- Latimer has eight points and Orandi has six points.
- UA made 16-of-39 shots from the field. St. Francis made 6-of-18 shots from the field. Ironically, the Zips made 6-of-18 from beyond the 3-point arc.
- The Zips hold a 25-11 advantage in rebounds. The Red Flash have made 13 turnovers and forced seven.
Second Half
The Zips lead 48-24 with 15:45 to go in the second half.
The Cleveland Browns currently hold a 27-24 lead in the third quarter over the host Kansas City Chiefs. Joshua Cribbs has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. I saw the first one on TV at home prior to coming to his game. He is amazing. His combination of strength and speed are phenomenal.  The returns were 100 yards and 103 yards. He now is the NFL career leader in kickoff retunrn touchdowns. Jerome Harrison rushed for a 71-yard touchdown and Phil Dawson has made two field goals and three point after touchdowns. 
Marshall blocked a shot with 13:24. McClanahan made a fastbreak layup with about 13 minutes to go to make the score 54-29. 
Marshall just slammed home a right-handed dunk of a pass by Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens with 12:38 remaining. Zips lead 56-29.
McNees made a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to make the score 65-33 with 9:50 to go. McNees has 17 points.
It's showtime. Conyers just finished off an alley-oop pass by Roberts with a two-hand dunk. Ronnie Steward started the 3-on-1 fastbreak by dribbling down the middle and whipped a pass to his right to Roberts who then lobbed the ball in the air to his left for a flying Conyers. The Zips 67-34 with 8:27 to go. The dunk was nice, but not of the quality of the Conyers left-handed dunk during Friday's 83-59 win over visiting UNC-Greensboro when he slammed a half-court alley-oop pass from Hitchens.
Harrison gave the Browns a 34-24 lead with an 8-yard touchdown run. He has gone over 200 yards rushing for the day. 
Chris McKnight just got a nice block with his right hand 6:28 to go. UA leads 67-36.
McClanahan buried a 3-pointer with 6:04 left to make it 70-36.
Marshall made two free throws with 5:24 to make it 72-39. Steve Swiech subbed in for Marshall with 4:56 left.
Swiech just powered home a basket with 4:37 to go in the game. UA leads 74-41. Alex Sullivan checks into the game with 4:16 to go and joins Nikola Cvetinovic, Tim Carroll, Steward and Swiech on the court.
Sullivan made a jumper with 2:12 to go. That was his first made field goal in college.
Cvetinovic and Kyle Petersen check into the game with a 1:30 to go. They join Sullivan, Carroll and Swiech on the court.
Swiech makes a layup with 40 seconds to go.
It's all over at Rhodes Arena. UA wins 80-51.
The Zips have a record of 7-3 and the Red Flash are 3-8.
Postgame Stats
- McNees led all scorers with 17 points. McClanahan scored 11 points and Conyers had 10 points and seven rebounds. Brett McKnight grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and scored seven points. Roberts scored eight points and Chris McKnight scored seven points. 
- Shannon scored 16 points and Latimer contributed 13 points.
- UA made 31-of-61 shots from the field and St. Francis made 17-of-51. The Zips converted 11-of-25 from beyond the 3-point arc and made 7-of-13 free throws.
- The Zips held an advantage in rebounds (43-25), assists (18-10) and blocks (6-1).
Postgame Quotes
Akron coach Keith Dambrot
"If we play great defense, it doesn't matter the level of competition. I think you can see us getting better defensively."
"We are getting production from (graduated senior) Nate Linhart's spot." Dambrot said Conyers and McClanahan are filling that role. 
"I don't like (18) turnovers."
"I thought we have ben rebounding the ball pretty good and we have been guarding the ball better."
"We are starting to play better together and we're getting more assists."
on Conyers' improved play: "I think I am the reason he has had his struggles. He hasn't had the opporunities that he has now. He is playing loose and free. He is the toughest guy in our program. If he gets 10 points and seven rebounds a game we're going to be pretty good. I give hin a lot of credit, a lot of  hanging in their (on his part)."
Akron junior guard Steve McNees
"From the tip to the very end we are still playing our roles and still playing hard and getting better I think we are getting something out of these games and still learning."
"We're really big on our defensive rules and continuing to play hard on every single possession. I think we did that in this game. We stress the effort, that is who we are."
"We're looking forward to the games ahead and just want to continue to get after it."
"I had some good looks. Fortunately, my teammates were finding me. I seemed to be open a lot more than normal."
"I think we are coming along and we are sharing the ball better than earlier in the year."
St. Francis coach Don Friday
"Coming in here to Akron we knew we were going against a really guality ballclub. They are a really good ballclub and we're just trying o piece it together. This is a team that is tough to play because there is very litle margin for error."
"They play so hard defensively. Coach (Dambrot) is on them on (defensive) stance all the time. He was on them all night."
"I really admire how hard they play defensively. They pressure you and they play hard offensively, too."
"(Dambrot) wasn't going to run it up on us because he is a classy guy."
"I have got a lot respect for coach (Dambrot). He is an Akron guy through-and-through. How many coaches get to coach in their hometown?
One Final Comment
Holy Cow, the Browns won. They defeated the Chiefs 41-34 after Harrison rushed for 28-yard touchdown with 44 seconds to go. Harrison rushed for 286 yards on 34 carries. The Cavaliers are obviously closer to an overall league title, but maybe the Browns and the Indians can be contenders next season.

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