Forward Quincy Diggs answered a game-tying shot with one of his own to lead the University of Akron men’s basketball team to a last-minute victory over Bowling Green State University 65-63 at the Stroh Center on Sunday.
No one could blame the Zips (16-7, 8-2 in Mid-American Conference) and coach Keith Dambrot if they flashed back to their loss against Kent State a little more than a week ago. Against the Golden Flashes they watched as a player banked in a 3-point shot to win the game.
The Falcons’ Jehvon Clarke put shivers down the Zips’ collective spine by sinking a 3-pointer to tie the game at 63, the first tie of the game, with nine seconds left.
However, instead of calling a timeout, Dambrot elected to have his team continue play. Diggs proved calm and collected as he dropped in the game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds left in the game with the Falcons (10-13, 4-6) having no timeouts left.
“I felt like they’re a multiple defensive front team,” Dambrot said, “so we could have got zone or man and made it hard for us to get it in bounds.”
But there was an additional reason, also.
“I felt like Q had it going pretty good,” he said, “and that was our best opportunity to score.”
Diggs led the Zips with 14 points, four assists and three rebounds. He was followed by forward Demetrius Treadwell with his seventh double- double in eight games with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Clarke, who played at Canton Timken High School, led all scorers with 19 points and four assists, but he also committed six turnovers.
Lead slips away
After struggling the past two games, the Zips looked to establish their offensive game early on and did so in the first half as they went into the halftime break leading 35-26.
UA couldn’t maintain their first-half momentum and the Zips tried to give the game away by committing 17 turnovers, blowing what was at one point a 14-point lead.
They were lucky as the Falcons returned the favor, coughing the ball up 18 times themselves.
The Zips tried to re- establish dominance, but struggled to stay out of their own way. The Falcons also kept the pressure on UA, wearing down the Zips throughout the second half.
“I felt like they had more energy than us in the second half,” Dambrot said. “I felt like we were pretty spent.”
Sneaking out a win
The Falcons nipped at the Zips’ lead and eventually got to within 57-56 with 3:00 left in the game.
The Falcons were able to get out and run on the Zips, scoring 12 fastbreak points.
“We got hurt in transition,” Dambrot said. “Every time we got up 10, we couldn’t put them away. We couldn’t get any stops or we’d make a bad offensive play.”
The game falls under the win-is-win category, but the Zips are showing grittiness and guts as they survive similar pressure-filled games. Dambrot knows he’ll have to live with the turnovers at times. But as Sunday’s victory proved, having a team succeed through adversity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
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.