Men's Basketball Hands Akron its First Home Loss, 70-67
The Kent State University men's basketball team (15-12, 7-7 MAC) snapped Akron's (22-5, 12-2 MAC) 30 game home winning streak Saturday, taking round one of the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge, 70-67.
"Great game, as it usually is with Kent State and Akron," said head coach Rob Senderoff. "This is a great win for us. We have a ton of respect for Akron, but I'm proud of our group. Particularly our seniors, but everybody stepped up and contributed to help us get this win."
The Flashes put forth a victorious defensive effort, in front of a sold out crowd, against the MAC's top team. Akron was held to 41.5 percent (22-for-53) shooting and 34.6 percent in the second half. The Zips were forced into 17 missed shots from 3-point range. On offense, Kent State shot 43.1 percent (25-for-58) overall and 54.2 percent in the second half. The Flashes took care of the ball, committing just five turnovers, only one of which came in the first half.
"The biggest thing for us is taking care of the basketball," Senderoff noted. "For us, you can cancel everything else out. Whenever we do that, we have a chance. When we don't, we shoot ourselves in the foot."
Deon Edwin led the way for the Flashes, scoring 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He shot 2-for-3 from 3-point range and collected a team-best seven rebounds. Jimmy Hall was also solid, with 18 points, six rebounds and two steals. Jaylin Walkerscored 16 points and collected six boards, three of offense.
The JAR was loud from the start Friday, but the Flashes were undeterred. Kent State hit two 3's to start the game and eventually built a 12-7 lead within the first eight minutes of the game. Kent State's lead was short lived, as the Zips made seven straight shots. The run allowed Akron to take a 27-35 lead with 2:56 left in the half. Kent State played strong defense for the remainder of the period, holding Akron to a point down the stretch. Kent Stated trailed at the break, 36-31.
The Flashes made their move early in the second half by shutting down their rivals. Kent State forced the Zips to miss 11 consecutive shots, in which the Flashes turned into an 11-0 run. Kent State took a 46-38 lead, its largest, with 12:56 left to play.
A 9-0 run for Akron erased the Kent State advantage in roughly three minutes, and from there, both teams traded haymakers. The two teams stayed within five points of each other, leading to a 61-61 tie at the last official timeout with 3:41 to go.
Akron was held without a field goal for the remainder of the game, while Kent State sealed it at the foul line. Both teams went to their big men in the final minutes, with Hall and Isaiah Johnson each scoring two at the line. Tied going into the final minute Edwin put the ball on the floor and scored the final field goal of the game with 45 seconds left. After Akron went 1-for-2 at the line on the other end, Jalen Avery earned a trip to the stripe and extended his team's lead to 67-64 with 23 seconds on the clock.
Akron had two opportunities to score, but were stopped on a layup attempt and a game-tying 3-point shot. Edwin pulled down the rebound on the trey and scored his final two points at the foul line. Akron picked up a few more points in the final five seconds to make the score closer, but did not have an opportunity to erase its deficit.
Kent State won the second half, 39-31, and earned 27 points on a combined 10-for-16 shooting from its seniors in Edwin and Hall. Avery would finish the game with seven points, three rebounds and two assists. Kevin Zabo tallied five points, while Mitch Peterson matched Edwin's game high of seven rebounds.