In what was a very competitive and exciting game, the Kent State Golden Flashes edged out the Ohio Bobcats 68-66 to advance to the MAC Championship game. In what was a very back and forth game, the Flashes were able to hold on after a Jaylin Walker lay up with 4.1 seconds left that gave the Flashes the lead. For the Flashes Jimmy Hall had a big game with a double-double, he had 22 points and 10 rebounds. While Kevin Zabo added another 15 points with some big threes down the stretch. For Ohio Jaaron Simmons had 25 points and 7 rebounds while Kenny Kaminski had 16 points as well. The Flashes shot 41 percent from the field and 33 percent from three. While the Bobcats went 44 and 35 percent for themselves. Kent will play Akron tomorrow night to grab a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Zips and Flashes split the season series 1-1, both winning on the road.
After a few fouls to start the game, Kenny Kaminski got the scoring started for Ohio. Once the ice was broken, the scoring really started. At the first timeout of the game, Ohio held a 14-12 lead. Kaminski was up to 8 points for Ohio and for Kent St. Freshman Mitch Peterson had 8 points himself. The scoring slowed down a bit after the timeout. Both teams only mustering a few points. After an And-1 from Kent’s Adonis De La Rosa, Ohio went on a 7-0 run to give the Bobcats a 23-16 lead with 9:32 left in the half. The Golden Flashes ended the run after a steal and jumper from Kevin Zabo to cut the Ohio lead to 25-18 with 7:37 remaining in the first half. As the first half drew to a close, Kent St started cutting into Ohio’s lead. A lead that as once ten was down to 4 with 2:36 left in the half. Jimmy Hall would tie the game at 32 for the Flashes after an offensive rebound and putback. To end the first half, Ohio’s Jaaron Simmons hit a floater to put Ohio ahead 34-32 at half time.
For Ohio, Simmons and Kaminski each had 11 points, while for Kent St, Peterson and Hall each had 8. Ohio shot 44.8 percent and 33.3 percent from three. While Kent shot 35 percent and 29 percent from three.
To start the second half, Kent would tie the game after a few good possessions that Hall was a big part of. After 4 quick points from Ohio gave them the lead, Kent scored 4 quick points of their own to tie the game at 40. Kent State would take the lead after a Deon Edwards three to put the score at 43-42. Ohio would then tie the game again after a converted And-1 from Gavin Block tying the game at 45. After a couple of minutes of tough defensive basketball, Kent States Zabo hit a three to put the Flashes up 4, then after a steal he would make 1 of 2 free throws to extend the lead to 5 with 8:30 to play. Ohio would answer with 4 points of their own, to cut their deficit to one, at the 7:23 mark, Kent State held a 53-52 lead. After a slow couple of minutes, Zabo again hits a three for the Flashes and gave Kent a 4 point lead with 4 minutes remaining in the game. After a Simmons basket for Ohio that cut the lead to 2, Zabo hit another three for the Flashes, pushing their lead back up to 5. After an Ohio miss, the Flashes on a bad possession get a big three from Jalen Avery from way behind the Arc, Ohio would come down and hit a 2. Making the Score 64-58 with 2 minutes remaining in the game. After two misses from Jaylin Walker, Jaaron Simmons hits a step back three to cut the lead to just three, then on the next possession Jimmy Hall was fouled on a questionable call and would hit the 2 free throws to push the lead to 5 for the Flashes. On the following Ohio possession they would make 1 free throw, and on the second attempt, it was missed and rebounded by Ohio, the ball was then swung into the corner where Kaminski hit a three to cut the lead to just one. With 40.9 seconds left Kent St, held a 66-65 lead. Avery would miss a long three, and Kent would foul Simmons one the way down the court, with both teams being in the double bonus, Simmons went to the line to shot 2 free throws, with the chance to give Ohio the lead with 10.8 seconds remaining in the game. Simmons hit the first to tie the game at 66. Simmons would miss the second and Walker of Kent St would take the ball all the way down and put it in to give Kent St the lead with 4.1 seconds remaining. On the final Possession of the game Simmons took the ball up the court and lost track of time as Ohio did not even get a shot off. Kent State wins 68-66, advancing to the MAC Championship game tomorrow night to play Akron.