It was the first road test for the University of Akron basketball team, and the Zips graded an incomplete.
After falling behind early, the Zips (6-3) mounted a furious comeback, only to come up short in a 68-65 loss to host Purdue Fort Wayne on Wednesday night.
The Zips were behind by as many as 19 points in the second half before going on a 16-3 run to put them back in the game and eventually taking a 63-62 lead to go. But the valiant effort went for naught.
Trailing 66-65, UA had the ball and a chance to win with 26 seconds left. But the Mastodons’ John Konchar jumped into the lane of a Daniel Utomi pass and stole the ball. A quick foul sent Konchar to the line where he made both free throwns.
The Zips still had a chance to tie the game with seven seconds left but a last-second shot came up short, sealing UA’s fate in their first true road game. The Zips played their other three games away from Rhodes Arena in the Cayman Islands.
For Utomi, it proved a disappointing end to an otherwise stellar night. He led the Zips with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-12 from behind the 3-point line. He added a team leading eight rebounds.
Fort Wayne's Kason Harrell led all scorers with 24 points and added four rebounds.
The Zips struggled offensively, shooting 33 percent (12-of-36) in game. The Mastodons (6-5) shot 47 percent from the floor (23-of-49).
The Zips did well to play their way back into the game.
The Mastodons took a 15-point lead in the first half as they shot 57 percent from the floor to UA’s 30 percent.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.