Brewer hits game-winning buzzer-beater to take down Akron

Stephen Means II

Whenever Kent State (21-10, 12-6 Mid-American Conference) and Akron (18-13, 9-9 MAC) are mentioned in the same sentence, the words “rivalry game” usually follow when talking about sports.

Friday night, however, was more than just the average rival game.

Kent State would have to fight for a top four seed in the MAC tournament all the way down to the final seconds of the game, where Kent State fans may have been suffering from déjà vu.

Last year, then-senior Darren Goodson hit a bank shot three-pointer to win the game at the buzzer. Fast-forward one year later, and once again a senior would decide the outcome of the game.

With 5.9 second left on the clock, senior guard Kris Brewer took the ball baseline-to-baseline to score the game winning lay-up, winning the game, 79-77.

“Coach (Rob Senderoff) just told me to make a play,” Brewer said. “I saw an opening in the defense, and I just took what was available and made the shot.”

Brewer said that hitting the game winning shot was a “crazy feeling.”

“After I made the shot, everybody was on me, and I wanted everybody to get off me,” Brewer said jokingly. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. Words can’t explain it right now; I’m still in shock. I’m just glad we won the championship.”

Senderoff raved about the season and Brewer’s overall career after the game.

“To be here for four years and to be able to hit that shot on senior night, in front of his family — he’s the guy that generally takes the most criticism when we don’t well,” Senderoff said. “For him, this week, to play the way he has in the last week of his senior season, words can’t really describe how proud I am of him for his resiliency.”

Senior guard Derek Jackson set the tone for the Flashes in the first half, scoring 19 of his season-high 22 points.

“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Jackson said. “My teammates were telling me to ‘keep taking your shot, keep being aggressive’ and that’s what I did.”

Akron battled back to take a two-point lead with 7:30 left to go, but where Jackson left off in the first, Brewer pick up in the second. Brewer scored all 20 of his points in the second half.

Redshirt sophomore forward Jimmy Hall added 18 points and six rebounds.

For senior guard Devareaux Manley, 10 points, senior night was special for his own personal reason. This was the first time Manley’s mother has had the opportunity to see him play basketball at the collegiate live and in person.

“Best feeling in the world,” Manley said. “It’s the first time she’s got to see me play in about four years. What better way to go out than in front of her. It was definitely special.”

Manley and Brewer are both four-year players in this year’s senior class. This is the first time that they have won a MAC championship, either regular season or tournament.

“It’s been a long ride,” Brewer said. “(We have) been through ups and downs. Every single year, we always come out with the mindset that we want to win a championship and we finally got it our last year.”

Junior forward Reggie McAdams led the Zips with 17 points. Freshman guard Antino Jackson added 16 points, and sophomore center Isaiah Johnson had 14 points.

For the Flashes, the outcome of this game would be the difference between a chance at possible regular season MAC championship or dropping to the fifth seed in the MAC tournament.

With the win, Kent State has guaranteed themselves the number three seed in the MAC tournament and a share of the regular season title. The Flashes will play its first game Thursday, March 12 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Contact Stephen Means II at [email protected].