Zips Zagged: Gonzaga comes from behind for winPosted: Updated:
PORTLAND - Sure. Give the fans a heart attack! Gonzaga played from behind in the first half, but came alive in the second to beat a pesky Akron team 77-64 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.
Gonzaga trailed 35-38 at halftime, keeping the game close by hitting free throw after free throw. They didn't regain the lead until several minutes into the second half. They capped a 14-3 run at the 8:00 mark on an emphatic dunk by Josh Heytvelt off the assist from Matt Bouldin to make the score 57-52. By the 6:25 mark, the lead had become 12, and the Zips called another timeout to talk things over.
From that point on, Gonzaga's speed, intensity and endurance proved to be too much for the Zippers.
"It feels great to win and move on," said coach Mark Few. "I really liked how our guys hung with this game. It was a grinder. I think our staff and players understood what kind of game it was going to be."
Josh Heytvelt took the game over in the second half, finishing the game with 22 points and eight rebounds. Even he admitted Akron came out of the gates surprisingly well.
"They did have us rattled in the first half," Heytvelt said. "We kind of settled into our offense and got into our defense."
As a team, Gonzaga shot better than 53 percent, while holding the Zips to less than 40 percent shooting.
Darryl Roberts, a 5'11" guard for Akron, led the Zips in scoring with 19.
After the game, coach Keith Dambrot said he was surprised the game didn't go down to the lst three minutes like he had hoped. He credited what he called Gonzaga's unbelievable talent.
"I think I'm a pretty good judge, and that's the most individually talented 4-seed as I've ever seen," said Dambrot.
Gonzaga moves into the second round to play the winner between Illinois and Western Kentucky. Coach Few said he doesn't have a preference on which team he'd rather play.
"Both teams pose some serious problems that we need to address, just like Akron did," said Few.