Bowling Green Nips Akron

Updated 2/25/2000

Akron, Ohio (Feb. 24) -- Anthony Stacey hit a 15-foot fade-away jumper with 1.1 seconds left to give Bowling Green a hard-fought 73-72 win over the Akron Zips Thursday evening at James A. Rhodes Arena.

The 6-4, 235-pound senior forward from Elyria, Ohio, finished with 20 points, but scored eight in the final five minutes with the game on the line. There were seven lead changes in the final 2:36.

The Falcons improved to 21-6 overall, 13-4 in the MAC, and can clinch at least a share of the Mid-American Conference East Division title with a win Saturday at Marshall. Kent is also 13-4 in the league. The Flashes play at Ohio Saturday. Bowling Green has locked up a bye into the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament, which begins Wednesday at five campus sites.

The Zips, meanwhile, dropped their third straight game and fell to 17-10, 11-7 in the MAC. Akron will host a first-round MAC Tournament game on Wednesday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. Opponent is TBD.

Zip coach Dan Hipsher had a difficult decision to make on BGSU's final possession. Akron had five team fouls and could give one foul without sending a Falcon to the stripe.

"I believe when they took the ball sideout there was about 11.5 seconds left and we talked about any dribble action taking a foul there," started Zip coach Dan Hipsher. "When they came off the screen, it slipped George (Phillips) there and he didn't get it done, but he blocked (Brandon's Pardon layup) shot. Unfortunately, it goes out of bounds off us. We still wanted to take the foul then on the inbounds, but only if the ball had a chance to get on the floor. You can't grab somebody on the catch because they might be shooting the ball. As we shoved (Stacey) off the block, we had plenty of chance to reach around and take a foul and try to cut the clock down even more. But even then, George did a nice job. He stayed in his (defensive) stance and contested the shot. It was a big-league shot."

The final result put a disappointing cap on Senior Night for six Akron seniors. And in the final minutes, Akron's four 1,000-point scorers, Ryan Andrick, Jimmal Ball, Jami Bosley, and George Phillips, played like champions.

The Zips trailed 58-52 with 9:30 to go after Dave Esterkamp nailed a triple for BG. A turning point came when Falcon guard Keith McLeod, who finished with a game-high 26 points, missed a pair of free throws with 8:15 on the clock leaving the score 58-54. Neither team scored until Bosley's layup with 6:49 left cut it two.

Bosley hit one of two charity tosses and then fed Phillips for a layup which gave Akron a 59-58 lead. Bosley then drained a triple and the Zips led 62-58 with 5:19 showing. McLeod answered with a three-ball at 5:11 and ended BG's scoring drought.

Enter the conquering hero Anthony Stacey. One year ago, Stacey had scored 30 points as Bowling Green defeated Akron in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament at JAR Arena.

It was a heavyweight fight the rest of the way. And Stacey delivered the knockout punch. Ball converted two pressure jumpers for Akron, one at 0:44 and one at 0:13, but Stacey answered each time.

Both teams were an identical 13-of-18 from the free-throw line and each turned it over 11 times. The difference: BG shot 6-of-14 from beyond the arc. Akron hit just 3-of-22 bombs.

"That was one hell of a college basketball game," said BG coach Dan Dakich, a former assistant and player for Bob Knight at Indiana. "I thought that was as competitive a game maybe as I've been involved in anywhere. Akron shows. We show. There were so many big plays I can't remember them all. My hat's off to Akron, they've been down, but they battled all night."

The Zips led 35-32 at intermission. Bosley ended with a team-high 16 points. Ball had 15, Phillips 13 and Andrick 12. Akron's bench, which has contributed big offensively all season, could only produce 12 points tonight on 5-of-14 shooting. The Falcons got little production from their bench, save for McLeod's 26. The Canton McKinley product hit 8-of-10 shots from the field.

"We have a lot of difficulty guarding McLeod," said Hipsher. "He played great off the dribble. We couldn't stop him."