On a night when Kason Harrell reached 1,000 points and John Konchar set a new program record for rebounds, it would be key defensive stops down the stretch that would be the difference in a 68-65 victory for Purdue Fort Wayne over Akron on Wednesday (Dec. 5).
The Mastodons took their largest lead of the game at 53-34 with 12:44 left in the game on a Konchar three-point play. In an instant the momentum swung to the Zips as Akron went on a 16-0 push fueled by four 3-pointers. The stretch made it a game again at 53-50 with 8:17 on the clock. The run was broken by a pair of free throws by Matt Holba. Three points by Harrell made the score 58-50 with 5:33 left. But Akron came back with eight straight to knot the game at 58.
With the game tied for the first time since the opening tip, it was a newcomer-to-newcomer combo for one of the game’s biggest shots when Jarred Godfrey found Dee Montgomery open for a corner three to put the ‘Dons up 61-58.
Akron would take their first, and only, lead of the game on a layup by Loren Crist Jackson with 2:43 left at 63-62. It would end up being Akron’s final field goal of the game. Harrell wasted no time getting to the basket and putting the ‘Dons back up 64-63 20 seconds later.
Down the stretch it was three straight defensive stops by the ‘Dons to clinch the game. With the ‘Dons up 66-65, Konchar came down with a missed Akron layup with 34 seconds left for his program record 966th career rebound. Still a one-point game on the next Akron possession, Konchar jumped in front of a Utomi Daniel drive and kick attempt to pick up a steal. Konchar was fouled and made both free throws, putting the ‘Dons up 68-65 with seven seconds left. Akron took the ball down the court but Utomi’s three attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.
Konchar finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Konchar now has 966 career rebounds, passing Sean Gibson’s (1989-93) 965 for first place in program history.
Harrell had a game-high 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting. A free throw in the first half gave him 1,000 points for his Mastodon career.
The ‘Dons finished the game 23-of-49 (46.9 percent) from the floor against an Akron team with only two losses on the season, 72-69 to Clemson and 73-68 to Illinois State.
Purdue Fort Wayne limited Akron to 32.8 percent (21-of-64) from the floor. The ‘Dons out-rebounded the Zips 38-35.
Akron falls to 6-3. The Mastodons are now 6-5. The ‘Dons are back in action on Saturday (Dec. 8) in a 2 p.m. start at another MAC foe. This time it will be the Redhawks of Miami in Oxford, Ohio.