The long trip to national prominence stalled a little bit in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday as the Akron Zips (4-3) lost to the Creighton Bluejays (9-1) 77-61 at the CenturyLink Center.
The Zips couldn’t stop Jays forward Doug McDermott, who knocked down 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-8 from the arc.
“We had no answers for McDermott and he got other people involved,” coach Keith Dambrot said. “He has a good ability to go inside or outside. He’s a good defender and he’s got a good feel for the game, so he’s a good passer also.”
To go with that scoring, McDermott added six rebounds and four assists to help the Bluejays’ cause.
Nick Harney led the Zips in scoring with 14 points and five rebounds. Zeke Marshall followed with 12 points, two rebounds and two blocked shots.
“I’m not going to overreact to it,” Dambrot said. “They’re going to win most of the games in their building.”
The Jays set the tone as they completed a 10-3 run at the 5:55 mark of the first half to take a 30-20 lead. The Zips battled, coming to within four points on a couple of occasions as halftime neared.
That was as close as they’d get as Creighton hammered UA in the second half. While the Zips worked hard to bring the Bluejays’ 12-point halftime lead into single digits, the Jays’ tenacious play wouldn’t allow it. They took control for good beginning at the 13:20 mark of the second half, when Creighton began a 15-5 run to take a 68-48 lead.
Offensively and defensively, Creighton dominated the game, never allowing the Zips to find any sort of rhythm on either side of the ball. They shot just 42 percent for the game.
“Having two games in three weeks didn’t help us. I don’t know if we had a lot of school work this week or whatever, but we didn’t have as much energy as we normally do. We kind of hit the wall and didn’t revitalize,” Dambrot said.
It’s the second time in as many games that opponents have shot better than 47 percent with the Zips playing their regular defense.
“We didn’t guard very well. We made a lot of mistakes defensively. We didn’t defend the rim; I thought that was probably Zeke’s worst game defending the rim,’’ Dambrot said. “Creighton is one of the best offensive teams in the country; we just didn’t play very well defensively.”
The Zips will get some more time to figure it out. They don’t play again until Saturday, when they take on Detroit at Calihan Hall.