Flashes zipped again in season finale

By Allen Moff Record-Courier staff writer Published:

With three seconds still showing on the James A. Rhodes Arena clock, Trevor Huffman slammed the basketball to the floor in disgust and began trudging toward the Kent State locker room.

An emotional outburst. That's just not like the typically stoic junior point guard.

But on Saturday afternoon, Huffman and his teammates simply weren't themselves.

The Golden Flashes didn't do any of the things that lifted them into contention for the Mid-American Conference title while falling 76-68 to archrival Akron, a setback that cost them the overall MAC crown in the final game of the regular season for the third consecutive year.

They didn't force many turnovers, didn't play solid defense, didn't draw fouls at will or shoot dozens of free throws, didn't scarf up loose balls ...

"We didn't play smart," said Kent State coach Gary Waters. "That's just not like us. We played with the heart of a champion because we kept fighting, but we didn't play with the mind of a champion. I saw us do some things out there that I still can't believe."

Waters was still scratching his head over one play in particular, which basically summed up the Flashes' day.

Despite being outplayed by the Zips (12-15, 9-9 MAC) for much of the afternoon, Kent State (20-9, 13-5 MAC) still managed to scratch and claw its way back from a 13-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 68 after a Huffman steal and layup with 1:55 to play.

But moments later Flashes' senior forward Kyrem Massey fouled Akron forward David Falknor while trying to reach around and poke the ball loose from behind near midcourt.

Waters' jaw immediately dropped.

"That came out of nowhere," said Waters. "They were struggling to get a shot off at that time, and we had just talked about playing solid defense and getting a rebound. (Massey's foul) was the biggest shock I've ever seen."

Falknor hit both free throws to give Akron a 70-68 lead, then Kent State's Demetric Shaw forced a shot from the baseline in heavy traffic that barely drew iron on the other end.

Zips senior Nate Schindewolf grabbed the rebound, was immediately fouled, and drained two clutch free throws with 30 seconds left.

Wham, bam, ballgame.

"I honestly thought when we tied it at 68 that we'd win," said Waters. "I think seniors were the difference in the game. Theirs showed up and ours didn't."

Schindewolf buried four 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 22 points. He hit two bombs right out of the gate that set the tone, putting the Flashes in a quick 9-2 hole they spent the rest of the afternoon digging out of.

Meanwhile, Massey scored a season-low two points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field.

But other Flashes struggled as well. In fact, aside from decent efforts by Shaw (17 points), senior forward Rashaun Warren (13 points) and freshman Eric Haut (8 points), everyone had a fitful day. Even Huffman (12 points) was upstaged by Akron guard Emmanuel Smith, who poured in 21 points.

The 11th-ranked rebounding club in the MAC also outboarded Kent State 34-25.

"You kind of expect Schindewolf to have a great game on Senior Day, but we didn't expect Smith to get 21 points," said Waters. "That really hurt us. Still, if we rebound we win.

"This is very disappointing, because we really wanted to win the MAC. But we always knew we'd still have to win the MAC Tournament to go to the NCAAs. Now, we've just gotta dig deep."

Despite the loss Kent State still earned the MAC Tournament's No. 2 seed, behind regular-season champion Central Michigan. The Flashes receive a first-round bye, and will play the winner of Monday's Western Michigan-Bowling Green game Thursday at 7 p.m. at Gund Arena.

_____

Akron 76, Kent State 68

(At JAR Arena)

KENT STATE

NAME MIN FG 3-PT FT RB PF A TP

Shaw 38 7-12 3-4 0-0 4 3 1 17

Massey 27 1-4 0-0 0-0 3 3 2 2

Perry 24 3-7 0-1 2-2 3 3 0 8

Mitchell 34 2-6 1-2 2-2 3 3 2 7

Huffman 35 6-17 0-6 0-0 2 3 8 12

Haut 11 3-4 2-3 0-0 2 3 0 8

Bedford 7 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0

Warren 19 5-7 0-0 3-7 4 2 2 13

Edwards 5 0-0 0-0 1-2 1 1 0 1

______________________________________________

Totals 200 27-58 6-16 8-13 25 23 15 68

AKRON

NAME MIN FG 3-PT FT RB PF A TP

Schindewolf 39 5-12 4-8 8-8 7 3 3 22

Zollner 6 1-1 0-0 0-0 2 1 0 2

Weinkein 25 1-2 0-0 3-7 6 3 0 5

Brown 25 0-1 0-1 6-6 4 2 4 6

Smith 36 8-14 2-3 3-3 3 2 3 21

Thompson 2 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0

Sims 20 1-6 0-3 0-1 4 0 1 2

Penn 25 4-5 0-0 2-2 4 3 2 10

Falknor 19 2-4 2-4 2-2 1 0 1 8

Seibert 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

_____________________________________________

Totals 200 22-47 8-19 24-29 34 15 14 76

KENT STATE 26 42 _ 68

AKRON 39 37 _ 76

Blocked shots _ Kent State (3): Massey 1, Perry 1, Edwards 1; Akron (0). Turnovers _ Akron, 13-6. Technical fouls _Kent State (1): Shaw; Akron (0). Attendance _ 4,196.

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