AKRON, OHIO – Sophomore Loren Cristen Jackson scored 18 points, with all of them coming in the second half, as the Akron Zips pulled away after intermission to defeat the Kent State Golden Flashes 72-53 Friday night at Rhodes Arena.
The victory for Akron (14-9, 6-4 MAC) was its fourth in the last five games and improved the Zips' overall record at home to 11-1 overall and a perfect 5-0 in Mid-American conference play.
“We are humbled to beat a really good Kent State team tonight.” Zips head coach John Groce said. “Our defense was good tonight. A total team effort on that end of the floor. I thought offensively we hit our stride in the second half and shared the basketball and made the adjustments we had to do to win.”
Kent State (17-7, 6-5) suffered just its second loss in the last six games and third loss on the road -- second in MAC play.
“Give full credit to Akron tonight.” KSU ehad coach Rob Senderoff said. “We played poorly. Totally disappointed on how we played tonight.”
Junior Antonio Williams led KSU with 12 points, adding five rebounds and two assists, while senior Jaylinb Walker had 10 points with four boards and an assist.
The game was decided early in the second half. With KSU leading 39-37 and 15:12 remaining, Williams hit a short right wing jumper. UA then went on a 21-2 run over a span of 7:50.
The key in the run was Cristen Jackson; the transfer from Long Beach State had nine points. His first three came on an and-one to give the Akron the lead for good. The Zips then administered a body blow to the Golden Flashes with a pair of threes within a 15-second span. One came from the top of the key and one from the left arc.
In the second period, Cristen Jackson went 6-of-11 from the field, with two three pointers and two assists.
When the dust cleared, UA was ahead 48-41 aith 7:05 remaining after a three from the left arc from Utomi. The closest the Flashes would get for the remainder of the game was 12 points.
Among the keys for Akron were a pair of strategic time outs as Groce called one in each half when KSU took four-point leads.
Another key was handling Walker. The senior was leading the MAC in scoring at 23.2 points per game, as well as 3-point goals. He struggled against UA, connecting on just 4-of-19 from the floor and missing all 10 of his shots from 3-point range.
In KSU’s win Tuesday night against Miami Walker was poked in the eye, but made the winning foul shots in a 70-67 win. When asked about the condition of that eye, Senderoff did not elaborate.
In the first half, both teams made a run. UA went on a 13-5 spurt to take a 17-12 lead on a steal and a layup by senior Jimomnd Ivey, who finished the game with nine points and five rebounds.
KSU responded with a 9-0 run of its own to grab a 21-17 lead at the 7:44 mrak on a three from the top of the key from Walker.
The remainder of the half was close with neither team having more than that four point lead by the Flashes. However at the end of the half, Ivey knocked down a three from the top of the key just as the clockj hit triple zeroes to give the Zips a 31-30 edge at intermission.
At the start of the second half, KSU scored seven of the first eight points to again open a four-point lead 37-33 following a three from the left arc by senior guard Jalen Avery, who finished with nine points and four boards.
When Walker connected on a jumper at the 15:22 mark, it would be the Flashes last lead of the game. UA began its rally en rout to their second straight win over its arch rival and third straight at home.
“It was a high level game, a great crowd and the envciornment was terrific.” Groce said.
>> The Zips shot 487.1 percent from the field (26-of-54). However they went 15-of-30 in the second half, while KSU shot onlt 12-of-34 from the floor in the second 20 minutes, finishing the contest at 37.8 percent (20-of-61).
>> The Flashes won the battle of the boards 40-33. They had 15 offensive rebounds, converting them into 14 second chance points. Akron went 10-of-24 from the arc, and KSU was just 4-of-25 icluding 2-of-13 in the second half.
The Zips face Buffalo at home on Tuesday night while KSU heads to Western Michigan for a make up game with the Broncos on Thursday night..