WOW! My only expression after that game. Sorry for the touches of Kent State homer-ism during this article but I am struggling to contain my excitement. First of all, as a Kent State student, it was the greatest game I have ever seen at the MAC Center. The crowd was incredible and the Flashes matched the favorite Akron Zips step for step.
Kent State came into this game having lost four straight games and seven of its last nine. The Flashes last two losses to Toledo and Northern Illinois were by three points or less, and in both cases Kent had the lead late. The Flashes needed a win Saturday night..
Akron came into this game leading the MAC East, and red hot at that, winning eight of its last nine. The Zips' lone loss came to first place Toledo. The Zips looked to Quincy Diggs and Demetrius Treadwell to keep them at the top of the conference.
Both teams traded buckets in the first half, but the Flashes were able to hold the Zips scoreless with less than two minutes to go to take a four point lead into the half. Nick Harney's layup with 12:05 to go in the second half gave Akron its final lead of the night (37-35), however it would not be that easy. The Flashes just couldn't put the Zips away, and the Zips simply could not find a way to get back into the lead. Every move made by either team was matched with an equally responsive countermove.
Derek Jackson hit three monumental free throw shots with under four minutes to go to give the Flashes a five point lead. Then it was the Darren Goodson show. Like I said in the Flashes midseason report, Goodson was the man that needed to step up, and he did. Goodson scored the Flashes final eight points.
Treadwell converted on a huge layup with 35 seconds left to tie the game, but let Kent State hold the ball for the last shot. Nobody could get an open look and when Goodson found the ball with under six seconds left, you knew he wasn't passing it. It was a terrible look. Goodson had a hand in his face, well beyond the line, and kind of just threw up a miracle three and by the grace of the basketball gods, found the nylon.
Treadwell lead the Zips with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Quincy Diggs added 15 points as well. For the Flashes Goodson led with 12 points, eight of which came late; and Mark Henniger led the team in rebounds with seven.
Akron is still in great shape. At 6-2, the Zips are in a three way tie at the top of the MAC with Toledo and Ohio. The Zips have a favorable schedule on their way out. They will see Ohio again, as well as Buffalo twice. Don't sleep on their rematch with the Flashes in Akron, either.
Kent State still has a ways to go, but this was a huge step in the right direction. The Flashes also have a favorable schedule, however with a loss already to NIU and a win against Akron, it's more about which Kent State team shows up rather than who it has to play. Either way, the focus has to be on consistency from here until Cleveland in early March.
Up next for Akron is Eastern Michigan on Wednesday, which is also when Kent State plays its next game, against Central Michigan.