Gonzaga looked good in the opening moments of their first round game with Akron. But the keyword is 'moments,' for in a moment it was a completely different game.
The Zags began shooting threes and missed many of them. The Zips answered by making theirs and going ahead. Akron stayed ahead for the rest of the first half holding a three-point lead (38 to 35) into halftime.
In the second half, the Gonzaga Bulldogs went ahead 50 to 49. The Zags continued outscoring the Zips. Akron was not able to run with Gonzaga, and the Zags pressuring defense was way too much for the Zips to handle.
In fact, Heytvelt was way too much for the Zips to handle. The Zips had their best players on Josh Heytvelt, but he positioned himself against them—wearing them all down and placing them in foul trouble.
Josh Heytvelt played a solid game offensively and defensively and was rewarded for his efforts. Josh was voted the Chevrolet player of the game. Indeed, Heytvelt earned it.
Josh was superb. Heytvelt hit the boards, blocked shots, and scored 22 points, but it was his intimidating presence that kept Akron from taking advantage of any hope for an inside game.
Akron is a fine team, and they played a solid game. In fact, Akron played about as well as any team could, on this night, against the Bulldogs. Even when the Zags were behind, there was always the sense that the game was about to change.
Change it did, the Bulldogs outscored the Zips 31 to 6 and never looked back. Heytvelt was exciting and powerful all game long.
However, when one say’s excitement, the most exciting “single play” of the game was near the end when Gonzaga led 70 to 55—Heytvelt entered, Bouldin in bounded, and Pargo picked up the ball at mid-court. He then drove to the hoop and scored.
All I can say that it’s a good thing that no one tried to block Jeremy’s shot because Pargo was about a head above the basket as he twisted his body and extended his arm back with ball in hand, and in Michael Jordan fashion, Jeremy slammed it home.
Pargo's dunk was “Rip City” in the Portland Memorial Coliseum. Gonzaga won the game 77 to 64, and the Zags served notice.
Gonzaga will not be easy to beat any time soon. Furthermore, a team without a legitimate big man is just another team, and Gonzaga will have the edge.