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Creighton Blue Jays Defeat Akron Zips 77-60 in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Alan Kornspan

Believeland Media

The Akron Zips took on the Creighton Blue Jays in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

AP All-American Enrique Freeman blocks a shot in the MAC Championship Game. Against Creighton in the NCAA Tournament, Freeman led the Zips with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

(Alan Kornspan/Believeland Media)

The Zips and Blue Jays were even through most of the first half. In fact, with 3:28 left in the first half, the contest was tied at 31-31.

However, in the last 3:28 of the first half, the Blue Jays gained momentum and outscored the Zips 8-3 to take a 39-34 lead into halftime.

Creighton then kept that momentum going in the second half. In fact, the Blue Jays dominated the second half outscoring the Zips 38-26 as they claimed a 77-60 first round NCAA Tournament victory.

Afterward, Akron Zips Head Coach, John Groce, provided his thoughts about the contest.

"Obviously didn't quite go the way that we had planned or wanted it to," said Groce.
"Give Creighton a lot of credit. I thought they were really challenging to guard. I felt that way coming into the game. I thought it was important that we had valuable possessions on offense and scored."
"And I thought we got some pretty good shots. We made them early. Didn't make as many of them in the second half, but I thought they were good ones, and the game got away from us just a little bit there."
"But give them credit. They're a good basketball team, but I'm really proud of these guys, proud of our whole team."

Groce said that the last two minutes at the end of the first half really made the difference in the contest.

The Zips were up by three points at 34-31, but then Creighton went on a 8-0 run to end the half.

"I thought that was the biggest two minutes of the game," Groce said.
"We had a couple possessions there where we didn't get matched up in transition. The guys alluded to that. You know, we had a questionable shot, you know, couldn't quite get the ball a couple of times where we wanted to get it. But for the most part, other than those two minutes, we played the game plan to precision, quite frankly."

For the game, the Zips were outrebounded 38-26. In particular, the Blue Jays significantly outrebounded the Zips in the second half.

Also, the Blue Jays shot significantly better than the Zips for the game as they were 56.5% from the field and 10-17 from beyond the arc.

In contrast, the Zips were only 6-28 from beyond the arc and they shot 37.9% for the game.

Leading the Zips in the contest was AP All-American, Enrique Freeman, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

Ali Ali gathers a loose ball in the Zips MAC Semifinal victory against Ohio University. In the NCAA Tournament Game against Creighton, Ali had 14 points and two rebounds.

(Alan Kornspan/Believeland Media)

In addition, Ali Ali had 14 points and 2 rebounds.

With the victory, the Blue Jays will play Oregon on Saturday.

UA Cheerleaders, Zippy and the UA Dance Team celebrate after winning the MAC Title on March 16th at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.

(Alan Kornspan/Believeland Media)



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