KENT, OHIO – The Kent State Golden Flashes used an 11-1 run midway through the second half to seize control and went on to a 85-76 victory over the Akron Zips Friday night before a national television audience and sellout crowd of 6,327 at the MAC Center.
With the victory, Kent State (18-9, 9-5 MAC) has won three of its last four and has moved to within one game of the Zips for first place in the Mid-American Conference Eastern Division.
“I am really proud of our guys the way they competed tonight.” KSU head coach Rob Senderoff said. “Probably our best game of the year over 40 minutes.”
Senior Khaliq Spicer and . . .
After winning seven consecutive games, Akron (21-6, 10-4) has lost two of its last three -- both coming on the road.
“Our finesse did not beat their physical strength tonight.” UA head man Keith Dambrot said.
Junior Isiah Johnson led all scorers in the contest with 24 points, adding nine rebounds, two assists and a steal. Fellow Junior Kwan Cheatham Jr. had 17 points and three helpers, while sophomore guard Antino Jackson had 14 with six boards.
KSU broke open a close game late in the first half when it went on a 14-4 run to open a nine-point lead, 36-27, at the 4:05 mark on a conventional three-point play by Chris Ortiz.
The lead expanded to 11 on two occasions, the last being 40-29 at the 1:53 mark on a driving layup by freshman Jalen Avery, and KSU went into halftime with a 10-point advantage, 42-32.
Kent State shot 54.5 percent from the field (18-of-33) in the opening 20 minutes. In addition, it held a 19-17 rebound edge and turned the ball over just three times.
At the start of the second half, the Flashes opened their largest lead of the game at 15-points, 48-33, at the 18:29 mark on a contested layup by junior Deon Edwin.
The Zips then began to work their way back into the game. Slowly and steadily, they gnawing away at the deficit until they managed to forge a 61-all tie at the 7:03 mark when Cheatham connected on a three from the left arc.
Kent State, however, put the game away with an 11-1 run over a span of 3;26 to open a 73-62 advantage at the 3:06 mark on a layup by Spicer. The closest UA would get for the remainder of the game was five points on three occasions -- the last being 81-76 on a three from sophomore guard Noah Robotham.
KSU made 11-of-12 free throws in the closing moments to thwart any late UA rally and went on to victory, improving its home mark to 12-2.
Among the key stats in the game:
1) UA went 10-of-33 from beyond the arc with Robatham and senior Reggie McAdams going 1-of-13 and scoring a combined five points
2) KSU shot 51.7 percent over the 40 minutes (30-of-58)
3) The Flashes had 12 offensive rebounds and had 18 second chance points.
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday as KSU travels to Buffalo while Akron heads to Miami.