An instant classic

Doug Gulasy

Flashes, Zips follow recipe for exciting rivalry game


Golden Flashes’ senior forward Mike Scott shoots over Akron Zips’ sophomore forward Chris McKnight in the first half of the Golden Flashes’ 75-69 defeat of the Zips.


Credit: DKS Editors

It’s not a difficult recipe.

You just have to take two bitter rivals, stir in a double-digit comeback, sprinkle in some unique pregame festivities and add a raucous sellout crowd.

Mix all of that together and you get a classic rivalry game, like the Kent State men’s basketball team’s 75-69, come-from-behind victory against Akron on Wednesday night in the M.A.C. Center.

Just another game? Not really.

“You can’t deny it’s a different atmosphere,” senior forward Mike Scott said. “You can’t deny that. You just have to go into it with a level head and just handle your business and really not get overly excited about things because that’s when you make a lot of mistakes.”

The Flashes came into the game 10-0 at home, but they found a different atmosphere for this game. For the first time since the last home game against Akron, the Flashes played in front of a sold-out M.A.C. Center. Before the game began, the Athletic Department introduced a new live golden eagle mascot representing Kent State.

Kent State didn’t have the first half it wanted. Akron went into halftime up 35-25 because of hot shooting from behind the 3-point line.

“We played hard in the first half but not very smart, on offense or defense,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “And that was the challenge – that was the challenge for us coming out of the (Ohio) game (a 71-59 loss).”

“That’s what we worked on for two days in preparation for this one, is to learn from that. And in the second half we took, I thought, a huge step forward,” he added.

Akron’s crowd had the upper hand in the first half. As the Zips made outside shot after outside shot, the Akron faithful’s noise level drowned out the Kent State crowd. But as the Flashes came back, so did the cheers of the fans.

And the noise in the M.A.C. Center grew to almost deafening levels in the second half when the Flashes went on a 14-2 run to gain a lead they never relinquished.

Akron coach Keith Dambrot said the crowd of 6,516 was louder than others his team had experienced, and Kent State’s players said they drew intensity from it.

“The energy of the crowd was great,” sophomore guard Chris Singletary said. “(For the) Kent-Akron game, it’s always going to be like that. It’s real easy to feed off of it, and it helped a lot.”

Every player who stepped onto the court contributed to the win, Christian said.

“We always look at the stat sheets and look at points,” Christian said. “But sometimes it’s just making a hustle play or sometimes it’s getting a rebound and just being in the right spot and following the game plan. Those are positive contributions, and that’s what I thought we got tonight.”

Of course, the game didn’t end the way either team wanted it to end. A hard foul by Akron’s Steve McNees resulted in Flashes forward Haminn Quaintance getting into a shoving match with Zips forward Quade Milum.

The officials had to restrain other players, the Kent State student section threw objects at Akron players and a female Kent State fan suffered an injured foot during the fight. After Christian got onto the arena microphone and told the fans not to throw anything, Kent State Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy went to the student section and implored it to cheer.

Although no players were ejected, MAC officials have requested the videotape from each team and will decide if further action should be taken.



Record: Western Michigan 10-8,4-1 (MAC)

When: Sunday, January 27

Where: M.A.C. Center

Time: 2 p.m.

Listen in: WNIR 100.1 FM (Bill Needle),

Black Squirrel Radio

Key to game: Containing Western Michigan’s 3-point shooting. The Broncos make an average of about eight 3-pointers a game and shoot 37.3 percent from behind the arc, led by guards Derek Drews (43 percent) and David Kool (39.6 percent). The Flashes have to keep Western Michigan from getting hot from outside because otherwise, they could be in for a long afternoon.

Players and coaches for both teams called the incident a “heat of the moment” occurrence and said what happened won’t carry over to the next game, March 9 at Akron.

Contact men’s basketball reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].