Men’s basketball ends regular season with win over Akron Zips

Tim Dorst

Monday, March 11, 2013 – First Round (High-speed campus sites)

Game 1: No. 9 Central Michigan at No. 8 Buffalo, 7 p.m.

Game 2: No. 10 Northern Illinois at No. 7 Eastern Michigan, 7 p.m.

Game 3: No. 11 Miami at No. 6 Bowling Green, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 – Second Round (Games on SportsTime Ohio)

Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. No. 5 Ball State, 6:30 p.m.

Game 5: Game 2 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, 9 p.m.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 – Third Round (Games on SportsTime Ohio)

Game 6: Game 4 Winner vs. No. 4 Kent State, 6:30 p.m.

Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. No. 3 Western Michigan, 9 p.m.

Friday, March 15, 2013 – Semifinals (Games on SportsTime Ohio)

Game 8: Game 6 winner vs. No. 1 Akron, 6:30 p.m.

Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. No. 2 Ohio, 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 16, 2013 – MAC Championship

Game 10: Championship Game, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Kent State men’s basketball team had lost its last five games against its biggest rival Akron dating back to the 2011-12 season. With the Zips having one of their best seasons in recent years and having already clinched the Mid-American Conference regular season title, many saw the Flashes as major underdogs when they stepped onto the floor of James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Flashes had proven that records don’t always matter in a rivalry game.

The Flashes (19-12, 9-7 MAC) held on for a 68-64 victory over the Zips (24-6, 14-2 MAC) Friday, finishing their regular season on a five-game winning streak. Kent State holds the No. 4 seed and a double bye to quarterfinals in the upcoming MAC Tournament.

Trailing 6-2 early in the first half, the Flashes bounced back in a big way offensively, holding an 18-point lead at one point in the half. Head coach Rob Senderoff said he was very proud of the way his players competed and thought their play in the first half was crucial to their win.

“We came out and played really well and really hard in the first half,” Senderoff said. “In the second half I don’t know if we played really well, but we continued to play hard. I couldn’t be prouder of them. Darren [Goodson] and Randal [Holt] played great games, but really everybody who checked in helped us in some way.”

Goodson, junior forward, led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds and played exceptionally well in the second half when Akron began to make its late push. Sophomore guard Kris Brewer added 13 points, and senior guard Randal Holt finished the game with 12 points after securing the win with two free throws in the closing seconds.

Goodson, who has made major strides in his game since the beginning of the season, said he gained a lot of confidence from his teammates and coaches as well as in himself over the course of the Flashes’ conference schedule.

“Coach told me around Christmas break that I needed to be the player they brought me in to be,” Goodson said. “I’ve gotten a lot more confidence in myself to play better as the season went on.”

The Zips made a run at the Flashes late in the second half, cutting their lead down to three points in the final minute of the game. But Holt said the Flashes were able to always stay one step ahead of the Zips when it mattered most.

“We knew Akron wasn’t going to play flat the whole night,” Holt said. “They were going to make a run, and we were ready for it. Every time they did, we made a big play and added some cushion. We came together at the end and weathered the storm.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].