Loss at Akron is what the Flashes needed

Kali Price

Kent State senior guard DeAndre Haynes makes the first two points of Saturday’s game at Akron at the James A. Rhodes Arena. The Flashes lost to the Zips 67-75 in their final game of the regular season. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A loss isn’t necessarily a good thing, but the Kent State men’s basketball team’s 75-67 loss at Akron came at the perfect time.

Akron (21-8, 14-4 Mid-American Conference) ended its regular season with a win and an undefeated home record, but Kent State (22-8, 15-3 MAC) is still the regular season MAC Champion.

The loss didn’t affect anything other than the Flashes’ record and overall morale. It would have been nice for everyone to sweep the Zips in the regular season, but a win for the Flashes would have put on more unneeded pressure.

There’s enough pressure right now, being the regular season champions and having the eighth-straight 20-plus win season, but a seven-game winning streak would have made the pressure going into the most crucial time of year even worse.

And all of the Flashes’ MAC losses this season followed a big win. The Flashes’ 79-74 loss to Bowling Green on Jan. 26 came after a 53-46 win at Miami on Jan. 24. The loss to Bowling Green ended the Flashes’ unbeaten MAC streak for the season. The Flashes second MAC loss followed the Flashes’ 63-57 win over Akron on Feb. 4. They lost 60-44 at Toledo.

Saturday’s loss followed the Flashes’ 78-58 win over 2005 MAC Tournament Champion Ohio, which clinched the regular season title for the Flashes.

Judging by what’s been the pattern for the Flashes’ MAC season, they would have most likely fallen apart Thursday if they had beat Akron on Saturday.

Defeating such a big rival as Akron three times in one season is rare, but now the teams are tied and will most likely meet again in the MAC Tournament final.

Both teams clinched a first-round bye. No. 3 seed Akron will play the winner of the matchup between Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan tonight in Ypsilant, Mich. Kent State will play the winner of the game between Buffalo and Ball State tonight in Buffalo, N.Y.

Everything is riding on the MAC Tournament, not only for the Flashes, but especially the team’s four seniors, Jay Youngblood, Kevin Warzynski, DeAndre Haynes and Nate Gerwig.

The seniors have been the ones to lead the team to the championship, as the memory of the 2002 Elite Eight squad has been looming over their heads for years.

And the seniors will be the ones to lead the Flashes to a MAC Tournament Championship this year. Haynes said that everyone’s record is now 0-0. It’s a whole new ball game.

Saturday’s loss only made the Flashes hungrier for a win Thursday, unlike the Zips, who will be riding high and falling harder.

The Zips have their glory for now, let them revel in it. It’ll come to an end on March 11 when the Flashes take the MAC Tournament Championship.

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected].