Cleveland-- Everything went Kent State's way Friday night in the first half of the Golden Flashes' Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal game against Akron at Quicken Loans Arena. It was just the opposite in the second half as they squandered a 14-point halftime lead in a 61-54 loss to the Zips.
Kent State shot 46.4-percent from the floor in the first half, but just 23.1-percent in the second half. Akron hit on 26.1-percent of their shots in the first half and 52.9-percent in the second half to outscore the Golden Flashes, 42-21, in the final period of play.
"It was a game of two halves for both teams," Kent State head coach Jim Christian said. "We dominated the first half and they dominated us in the second half."
After a slow start by both teams, junior forward Mike Scott converted an and-one to spark a 12-0 run to give Kent State a 31-17 lead with just 2:07 remaining in the first half. The Golden Flashes closed out the half by getting two key defensive stops to take all the momentum into the locker room.
"Kent gave us a whooping in the first half," Akron head coach Keith Dambrot said. "They beat us up physically and mentally. At halftime (Romeo Travis) kicked us (coaches) out of the locker room; that really showed leadership."
Dambrot felt that his team could climb back into the game if they were able to accomplish two things.
"We can't go into the locker room and panic," he said. "You have to make adjustments. It was plain as day to me what we had to do to win."
Dambrot said the Zips weren't physical enough on defense and they weren't passing the ball into the blocks for the open looks. That changed in the second half.
Jeremiah Wood, who scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the final 20 minutes of play, took charge and led the Zips to a 42-40 lead at the 10:23 mark. He scored 11 points in that span.
"The whole (second) half they were living above the rim," Christian said about Akron's run. "A lot of that was Jeremiah Wood using his strength."
Akron extended that lead to 49-40 before Haminn Quaintance scored at the 4:50 mark to stop the Zips' run. That stop was only temporary as Kent State struggled to land a shot the rest of the way.
"We knew they were going to make a run but we didn't weather the storm; we lost our composure" Scott said about the Golden Flashes' second-half collapse. "I don't know what it was. We shoot 100 lay-ups every day but for some reason they weren't going down."
Kent State limited MAC Player of the Year Romeo Travis to just six points in the first half, all from the free throw line. But, it was the Golden Flashes that struggled to score from the field in the second half.
Kent State finished the game converting just 6 of 26 field goal attempts.
"We didn't play solid for 40 minutes," Christian said. "You have to play solid for 40 minutes to beat a good basketball team."
Scott led the Golden Flashes with 14 points. Freshman Chris Singletary posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds and Quaintance added 10 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season and 24th of his career.