Here comes Akron again

Joseph Gartrell

Flashes outlast fiesty Broncos to advance to MAC semifinals

Sophomore guard Jordan Mincy shoots against Western Michigan last night in the M.A.C. Tournament. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

It wasn’t d‚j… vu. But, at times, it looked as though it might be.

For a large chunk in the middle of the game between the Kent State men’s basketball team and Western Michigan last night, Kent State appeared to be suffering with traumatizing memories of its 22-point Feb. 11 loss to Western Michigan.

But in a game of significant scoring runs by both teams, Kent State came away with the win, defeating the Broncos 75-66, in the second round of the Mid-American Conference tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.

For the first six-plus minutes of the game, before the first of the big scoring runs, Kent State looked tentative.

The Flashes were in early foul trouble, and senior guard Armon Gates was dressed but on the floor beside the bench, an ice bag on his shoulder. The team was behind, 15-13. But sophomore Isaac Knight scored to tie the game, and senior Omni Smith followed that with a 3-pointer, putting the Flashes up, 18-15.

Kent State then scored the next 11 points, establishing a 14-point lead, 29-15.

With seven minutes left in the half, Kent State was up 31-18, but by the end of the half, that 13-point lead was reduced to three, 38-35. Over the final four minutes of the half, Western Michigan outscored Kent State, 11-1.

That run became 16-1 for Western Michigan after the Broncos scored the first five points of the second half and took the lead, 40-38.

A 3-pointer by Western Michigan sophomore Andre Ricks put the Broncos up five, 45-40, with just under 15 minutes left. By the 14-minute mark of the second half, Western Michigan had outscored Kent State 21-3 over a 10-minute stretch.

A 3 by Smith tied the game at 45, and a crowd-pleasing block by Kent State freshman Chris Singletary seemed to recharge the Flashes, who pulled ahead by four. Another 3 by Ricks trimmed the lead to one, 49-48.

The Flashes then scored the next seven points, and after a five quick points by sophomore guard Jordan Mincy, the Flashes were once again up by double digits, 63-52.

Gates, who played sparingly, hit a 3-pointer – the 199th of his career – near the seven-minute mark that put the Flashes up 14, 68-54.

And then another run began for Western Michigan. After the Gates’ 3, the Broncos outscored the Flashes 12-2, trimming Kent State’s lead to four, 70-66, with one and a half minutes to play.

But the Flashes extended the lead to eight with 22 seconds left, and the Kent State students began chanting, “We want Akron.”

And for some d‚j… vu, here Akron comes.

Tonight at 9 p.m., the Flashes will face Akron in the MAC Tournament semifinals. Just five days ago, the rivals met at the M.A.C. Center for the final regular season game, which Akron won in overtime, 66-64.

Contact sports editor Joe Gartrell at [email protected].