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Published: Sunday, 1/10/2010

Bowling Green falls flat against Akron

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

AKRON - Bowling Green State University struggled mightily in two critical areas against Akron last night in a Mid-American Conference opener.

The Falcons faltered shooting the basketball - knocking down only 28 percent (13 of 47) of their shots - and flopped as caretakers of the basketball - committing a season-high 21 turnovers.

The result was a 71-45 rout by Akron before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,028 at Rhodes Arena.

"We hurt ourselves with the missed shots around the basket and the turnovers," BG coach Louis Orr said. "You have to play better."

Joe Jakubowski proved to be the lone bright spot, pumping in 17 points, including a 3-for-4 effort from 3-point range. Otis Polk added eight points and grabbed seven rebounds, but he proved to be the Falcons' No. 1 offender when it came to missing shots. He made only 2 of 11 attempts.

Akron's defensive effort, which consisted primarily of man-to-man pressure, deserved some of the credit.

for the Falcons' offensive woes.

"Their [defensive] pressure played a factor," Jakubowski said. "I think we made a few mistakes, but at times when we did get the ball where we wanted to, we missed a few bunnies."

Offensively, Akron forward Jimmy Conyers led four Zips in double-figures, scoring a team-high 16 points, including drilling all three of his 3-point shots. Steve McNees provided 10 points, while Anthony Hitchens and Chris

McKnight added 10 apiece for the Zips (11-4, 1-0 MAC).

Akron coach Keith Dambrot thought the Zips won the game on the defensive end of the court, particularly defending against Polk, the Falcons' 6-foot-9 post player.

"I thought our guys' toughness level around the rim was good," Dambrot said.

He also thought Conyers' work on offense provided the spark to help Akron pull away from BG (7-6, 0-1).

"The guy is becoming one of the best players in the league," Dambrot said of Conyers, who also grabbed six rebounds. "If there are two or three tougher guys in the league, then I don't know them."

Orr also credited Conyers for sparking the Zips.

"He's just a guy you've got to compete with," Orr said. "You've got to keep him off the boards, and he's just a competitive guy.

"Again, we hurt ourselves more than anything."

The matchup between the defending MAC regular season champion, BG, and the MAC Tournament champion, Akron, didn't play out as competitively as anticipated. BG, which led by as many as eight points in the first half, never found any consistent shooting.

The Zips went on a 24-8 run midway through the second half to increase a four-point advantage to 20 on their way to outscoring the Falcons 39-17 during the period.

Hitchens came off the bench to spark Akron after it fell behind by nine points late in the first half.

He swished a wide-open 3-pointer to give Akron a 29-26 lead with 1:36 remaining before the break. Moments later, the 5-foot-9 playmaker found Jimmy Conyers open in the corner for a 3-pointer to make it 32-26.

Conyers scored nine in the first half, while Hitchens added seven.

Both teams struggled with their shooting in the first half. BG went 8-for-22 (36.4 percent), but that was better than Akron's 10-for-33 (30.3 percent).

If not for Jakubowski's 3-for-4 shooting in the first half, BG's shooting percentage would have been much worse. Jakubowski went 2-for-2 from 3-point range and had eight points at the break.

Orr expects BG to rebound when it hosts Buffalo on Thursday.

"It's a long season," Orr said. "It's the first MAC game for a number of our guys. Playing on the road and opening up at Akron, it's a learning experience. In order for us to win, we had to play better."

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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