The University of Akron men’s basketball team dug itself a hole Wednesday night at Rhodes Arena. About the only thing the Zips didn’t do was throw the dirt on themselves.
That doesn’t mean they didn’t try.
Akron couldn’t shoot and turned the ball over 11 times on its way to a 52-48 Mid-American Conference win over Eastern Michigan.
This victory is one that coaches normally feel fortunate about, and Zips coach Keith Dambrot did.
The Zips (15-7, 7-2 MAC) shot 32 percent for the game including 3-of-23 from behind the 3-point arc.
“If you don’t shoot it, it becomes a grind,” Dambrot said. “We were fortunate.”
But they also had some nice play from forward Demetrius Treadwell, who led all scorers with 17 points and added 14 rebounds to get his sixth double-double in seven games.
For good measure, forward Nick Harney added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Daylen Harrison and Darrell Combs each had 10 points for the Eagles (12-10, 4-5).
Eastern Michigan held the lead until 2:42 in the second half when the Zips clamped down on defense, showed some energy and completed a 21-5 run to close out the game.
“I thought this was a game we could come in and steal,” Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. “Obviously, that’s not the case now.”
The Zips played their best basketball of the night during those last two-plus minutes.
Point guard Carmelo Betancourt completed a continuation play with 2:42 mark to tie the score at 46-46.
After forward Quincy Diggs missed a layup, Betancourt followed with a put-back and drew the foul. He added the free throw, and the Zips never trailed again.
“I just followed Q,” Betancourt said. “I knew he was going pretty fast. I knew there was a chance he might miss it. I didn’t think I was going to get fouled on that play. I thought I was going to grab the rebound. I don’t know. I was just at the right place at the right time.”
A miss by the Eagles’ Raven Lee and a rebound gave the Zips the ball, and they took the lead for good when Harney put back a missed shot by Treadwell.
“It was a grind-it-out game,” Harney said. “I thought eventually we were going to crack the lead; it was just a matter of when.”
Ultimately, defense saved the day. The Zips forced 10 second-half turnovers that led to 12 points.
“We can be disappointed or we can say that’s how you have a good season,” Dambrot said. “You win games like that.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.