Circumstances required a degree of patience as the Akron Zips (4-2) and Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (5-6) sparred in Rhodes Arena Monday night, ending with a 74-64 Zips win.
With whistles dominating the game’s first half, it took a while for anyone to get into any offensive flow. Ten of the shrill-sounding toots came within the game’s first four minutes. In all 52 personal fouls (23 for the Zips and 29 for Oral Roberts) made for some spotty play throughout.
“For sure that was a lot of whistle calling and you just have to adjust to it,” forward Quincy Diggs said. “We eventually did.”
Did it affect the game?
“Maybe that’s just the way we play,” coach Keith Dambrot said. “[We] just kind of hacked here. Hacked there. They play the same way, so it wasn’t a thing of beauty, but that’s kind of how it was going to be.”
The Zips did get some advice from the officials.
“Keep your hands off,” Diggs said they were told. “That basically sums it all up.”
Given the number of fouls called, that proved not easy, but it didn’t stop Diggs and his teammates from coming together for the win.
They relied on the grittiness of forward Demetrius Treadwell and Diggs to pull them through spotty free-throw shooting and tepid shooting from the floor overall in the first half.
Diggs led the Zips with 19 points and added seven rebounds and three assists points, once again providing the spark needed on offense with 17 of those points coming in the second half. Treadwell came through with a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds and two blocks for the game.
It certainly didn’t come easily as the Golden Eagles played scrappy hoops for much of the game.
They pecked away at the Zips’ tenuous 38-34 halftime lead and the game evolved into a nip-and-tuck affair until Oral Roberts found themselves with a 51-50 lead with fewer than 11 minutes to go in the game, courtesy of Shawn Glover’s 16 points in the second half. He led all scorers with 21 point in the game. But that also came with seven turnovers.
“I thought we did a really good job with Shawn Glover. We doubled him,” Dambrot said. “He had 21 points, but he did it on 18 shots.”
The Zips, however, had an answer in wingman Reggie McAdams. With the score tied at 52, McAdams, who’d been virtually silent since the first half, hit a 3-point shot with 9:56 left in the game. After the Golden Eagles missed on their next possession, he grabbed a pass from Diggs on the other end and dropped another at 9:18, giving the Zips a six-point cushion.
“The one we ran for him. When a guy makes a three and you get it on the break, you’ve got to find guys who can shoot the ball,” Dambrot said.
When the Eagles continued to scratch away at the lead, coming to within 59-57 with 6:55 left, the Zips found forward Nick Harney (11 points, four rebounds) down low. Eventually they wore down Oral Roberts.
Dambrot called it a battle of basketball cultures.
“When it mattered, I thought we had a little more energy, I thought,” he said.
There are just two players in Zips history other than Zeke Marshall to block four shots in a game — both are current members of the team. Freshman center Isaiah Johnson did it Saturday night against Bethune-Cookman and center Pat Forsythe accomplished it Dec. 9, 2012, against Creighton.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. 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.