Zips fall to Flashes in final

” The University of Akron men’s basketball team fell to Kent State in the 2008 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship 74-55 Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena. UA (23-10) went toe-to-toe with the tournament’s No. 1 seed for the majority of the first half until the Golden Flashes took control.”

The University of Akron men’s basketball team fell to Kent State in the 2008 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship 74-55 Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.

UA (23-10) went toe-to-toe with the tournament’s No. 1 seed for the majority of the first half until the Golden Flashes took control. There were seven lead changes and five ties in the game until KSU guard Al Fisher hit a free throw with 7:29 left in the first half to give the Golden Flashes the lead at 20-19. KSU would go onto lead the rest of the way.

The Zips struggled from the field, shooting only 30.8 percent (16-of-52) and converting only 54.5 percent (18-of-33) of their free throws.

UA head coach Keith Dambrot said that despite his team trailing 33-20 at the half, he felt confident with the team’s chances of mounting a comeback because of its ability to get the ball into the post.

I thought Kent played well, but I thought we got the ball anywhere we wanted in the first half and didn’t make anything, Dambrot said. We missed free throws (and) layups, and you can’t do that against good team.

The Golden Flashes, on the other hand, converted the majority of their inside looks. KSU outscored UA 40-20 in the paint.

Senior forward Jeremiah Wood led the Zips with 13 points, but went 5-of-14 from the free throw line. No other UA player scored in double figures. Wood also led the team with eight rebounds.

Wood said that losing the tournament’s championship game for the second consecutive year is difficult, but this year’s setback is easier to accept because the team was simply outplayed.

This year, I felt like it was more in our hands, the senior captain said. We missed a lot of shots. I missed a lot of shots and free throws. You make those and then you lose and then it’s different.

KSU shot 50.9 percent from the field (27-of-53) and 88.9 percent (16-of-18) from the charity stripe. The Golden Flashes were led offensively by senior Haminn Quaintance’s 16 points. Fellow senior Mike Scott led the team with 13 rebounds.

Wood was selected to the 2008 MAC All-Tournament Team. Fisher, Scott and Quaintance represented KSU on the honorary squad. Quaintance was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

UA will now wait and see if it is invited to play in the National Invitational Tournament or the College Basketball Invitational, a new 16-team postseason tournament. Both fields will be announced Sunday.