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2011 MAC Tournament Champions: Akron Upends Kent State To Win MAC Tournament 66-65(OT)

A losing streak to end the season forced the Akron Zips to play more basketball than they were hoping for to get this far.  A total of three overtime periods the past 3 games forced the Zips to play even more.  In the end it was worth it as the Zips beat cross-town rivals Kent St. 66-65 in Overtime to win the 2011 MAC Tournament and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  

It was the 5th straight championship game appearance for Akron, who improves to 2-3 in those games.  One of the losses came to the Kent St. Golden Flashes 74-55 back in 2008.  Akron had also lost to the Flashes 79-68 in the season finale, forcing the Zips to play their way to Cleveland for the quarterfinals.  None of it seemed to phase the Zips, who were arguably the most complete team in the MAC all season, even if they didn't always play like it.

Akron nearly was run out of the buolding early on as Kent St. jumped out to a 14-3 lead early in the first half.  Akron was able to keep close, thanks to the clutch outside shooting of Steve McNees who scored 14 points and led an Akron rally that saw the Zips actually take their first lead on a McNees three-ball with :33 seconds to go in the half, giving the Zips a 33-31 lead at the break.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair with neither team leading by more than 4 points. Akron led by one when Justin Greene made one of two free throws to tie the game with :42 seconds left.  Both teams then missed opportunities, sending the game to overtime.

Kent State took the early advantage on a three-ball by Randall Holt and held onto the lead until Brett McKnight hit two free throws with :13 seconds to go, giving the Zips a 66-65 lead they would not relinquish.  Kent State had two chances to win, but Rodriquez Sherman had his shot blocked by 7-footer Zeke Marshall and Randal Holt missed a game-winning three.

Kent State struggled from the field all day shooting just 33.3% from the field, while making just 12-23 from the free throw line.  Akron shot 41% from the field and was 8-19 from deep.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.