Spokane, WA – Akron stood toe-to-toe with the No. 8 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs for 33 minutes, UA eventually fell, 61-43, at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. on Saturday evening.
The Akron-Gonzaga meeting was physical as both teams used their 300-pound centers as the focal point of their offenses. The game went back-and-forth through the first and second halves, with Gonzaga maintaining a slim margin throughout.
The Zags held . . .
Over the opening 20-minutes, Akron out-rebounded Gonzaga, 25-20, but the Zips only managed to shoot 25.8 percent from the field (8-of-31), which included 0-for-11 from beyond the 3-point arc. It was the first time in two seasons, Akron went without a 3-point field goal in the first half of play.
Akron opened the second half by splitting a pair of free throws, and Gonzaga responded by pushing the ball down the floor for a layup, increasing its lead to seven points, 25-18. The lead remained 5-7 points over the next six minutes as the two teams traded blows.
Akron continued to battle the top-25 opponent, cutting the lead to three points, 40-37, after junior guard Jimond Ivey buried a 3-pointer from the wing.
The Zags responded with a layup, but Akron came back down the floor and buried another triple, this time from sophomore guard Josh Williams.
With Akron trailing by two points, 42-40, senior center Isaiah Johnson picked up his fourth foul, and on the ensuing possession, senior forward Kwan Cheatham, Jr. also reached four fouls. That forced the Zips to put both big men on the bench with 8:36 remaining in the game.
Gonzaga took full advantage of the situation, outscoring Akron 19-3 in the final eight minutes of the game and holding Akron scoreless for the final 7:28.
Johnson led the Zips' scoring efforts with 11 points while grabbing a team-best nine rebounds. Ivey followed with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Cheatham recorded five points with six rebounds. Junior guard Antino Jackson also had five points.
The Zags also had a pair of double-digit scorers in Przemek Karnowski and Nigel Williams-Goss. Karnowski notched 14 points with eight rebounds while Williams-Goss chipped in 11 points.
Akron won the battle of the boards 42-36, pulling down 22 defensive rebounds while grabbing 20 offensive boards for 18 second-chance points.
The Zips ended the game shooting 26.7 percent from the field on 16-of-60 shots, including a 20 percent, 5-of-25 effort from long distance. The Bulldogs shot 40 percent, connecting with 20-of-50 from the floor and 4-of-15 from deep for a 26.7 shooting percentage from downtown. In addition, Akron was 6-of-14 from the free throw line, while the Zags capitalized on 17-of-20 bonus buckets.
Akron will be back in action at James A. Rhodes Arena for a battle with Marshall on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. ET.