With the nation's eyes able to turn on #MACtion in March, Kent State and Akron put on a show.
Early on, it was hard to get points. Both teams played tough defense, with the Golden Flashes forcing the Zips to shoot further out than usual. Consequently, Akron shot just 17% from beyond the arch in the first half, going an ice cold 3-for-18 from three land. However, the Zips carried a 33-30 lead to the half using balanced scoring behind Isaiah Johnson's inside presence and shutting down all Flash players not named Chris Ortiz or Jimmy Hall. Those two finished the half with 10 and 12 points respectively, with Hall adding 10 rebounds to complete the first half double-double.
Both teams would continue to play tough defense, and the Golden Flashes were finally able to grab their first lead of the night three minutes into the half on a lay-up by Kellon Thomas. However, that lead would be short lived as the Zips scored 14 seconds later to regain the lead.
From there, it would be a game of mini-runs with Kent State holding close to Akron, but really unable to knot up the game or get the lead back. The turning point appeared to be midway through the period, when Hall took a great feed and converted it for a lay-up. However, he would then push a Zip player before appearing to shout something towards an official, earning him a technical foul in a 56-51 game. Jake Kretzer would convert both free throws, and Noah Robotham would hit a Steph Curry-esque lay-up a few possessions later to push the lead to nine with eight minutes to play.
After the two teams traded three's, Josh Williams would hit a three-pointer for the Zips to put them up by 12 with five minutes to play. Kent State wouldn't be able to cut the deficit to single-digits the rest of the way, as Johnson's size helped secure many key rebounds down the stretch en route to a 74-60 victory.
The Zips used a very balanced attack all night with seven players finishing with seven or more points. Johnson and Robotham led Akron with 12 points apiece, and Williams added 11 as the three point shooting wasn't the factor that led the Zips to victory. Johnson added 11 rebounds for a double-double, while Jake Kretzer would've had a double-double had another one of his five three-pointers fallen (he was 1-for-5 on the night). He finished with 10 rebounds. In all, Akron survived going 7-for-33 (21%) from three-point land to win, with Reggie McAdams going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc.
For the Golden Flashes, Hall set a new career high with 17 rebounds in a losing effort. He finished with 20 points as well, but got very little help from his teammates. Ortiz finished with just 12 points, only getting two in the 2nd half, and Thomas added 11, but only one other Kent State player would finish with more than five points on the night. Hall had a solid night shooting, going 10-for-16 from the floor, but his teammates shot just 12-for-45 (27%) in the losing effort.
With the loss and other results as of writing, Kent State finished as the 5-seed in the MAC Tournament and will host Bowling Green in the first round on Monday. Akron had already clinched the MAC Regular Season Title and will be the 1-seed in the tournament.
|Points||Two tied (12)||J. Hall (20)|
|Rebounds||I. Johnson (11)||J. Hall (17)|
|Assists||Two tied (3)||K. Thomas (4)|
|Blocks||I. Johnson (2)||R. Davis (2)|
|Steals||Three tied (2)||D. Edwin (2)|