Falcons fall short at buzzer

The Falcons matchup against the University of Akron came down to the last shot, and it was Richaun Holmes’ to take.

The inbounds play was set up for Holmes to get the ball in the middle of the court and pass to the guards spreading the floor

if needed.

He decided to take the shot, but he slipped before he got the shot off and it did not even touch the rim. The buzzer sounded and the Falcons [13-6, 5-3] lost 69-68.

“It was a heck of a college basketball game,” said head coach Chris Jans. “We certainly had our chances to put them away, but we didn’t execute very well.”

This time around it wasn’t a lack of effort that beat the Falcons. It was their inability to gain control of the game. Two times they held double digit leads, the first came when they led 26-12 with 5:49 to go in the first half they let that get away from them. They later led 52-42 with 8:41 to go.

“Just like they had us down at their house, they made sure to put their foot on our throat,” junior guard Jovan Austin, who finished with six points and five assists, said. “We couldn’t get a key rebound, it was one possession where they had about four rebounds in a row.”

That possession Austin referred to is what changed the landscape of the game. The Falcons were leading 26-14 when the Zips got three offensive rebounds in one possession. They eventually finished with a layup and cut the lead to 26-16.

That was just the beginning of what was a 17-3 run the Zips finished the half on. In that run the Falcons were outrebounded 11-4 and their entire lead was gone as they went into the locker room tied 29-29.

“It seemed like we relaxed and they didn’t. We weren’t screening, getting each other open, we were just standing. We seemed pretty stagnant on offense” Austin said. “It seemed like we got too high on highs that’s pretty much what it was.”

The second half was back-and-forth and it was tied 33-33 until Delvin Dickerson hit a three with 17:06 to play. That sparked a run by the Falcons to put them up 52-42, but from there the teams went back-and-forth again.

“We kept talking about how many possessions were left in the game,” Jans said. “It just never seemed like we could knock them out. We had them staggered a couple times, but for whatever reason we couldn’t finish them off.”

The Falcons couldn’t do enough to pull away, but it seemed like they would be able to do enough to hold on.

That was until Akron surprised the Falcons with their press late in the second half. The press was something that the Zips did in portions throughout the game, but in the final minutes the Falcons looked rattled.

“[The press] really wasn’t an issue until the end really,” Austin said. “We weren’t expecting it, we weren’t in the right spots, we weren’t moving with urgency. That left some people on an island.”

Despite the trouble the press was giving the Falcons, they held a four point lead with one minute to play.

A Noah Robotham three cut the lead to one with 50 seconds to play. The Falcons inbounded the ball after a timeout and an errant pass by Zack Denny went right to Akron defender Aaron Jackson.

Robotham came down and nailed another jumper this time fading away on the baseline. Austin countered with two free throws, but again Robotham opened the Falcon defense.

He drove to the basket, missed the layup, but Akron forward B.J. Gladden was there for the rebound and game winning put back.

“[Robotham] is an excellent player especially for a freshman,” Jans said. “He stays calm and never gets sped up, he is a good player.”

The Falcons will look to bounce back against Mid-American Conference West Division leader Central Michigan Wednesday.

“This would have been a big win for us,” Jans said. “It was a wonderful opportunity, but we didn’t capitalize on it.”