CLEVELAND – Behind Zeke Marshall's 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots, top-seeded Akron defeated fourth-seeded Kent State on Friday night in the semifinal round of the FirstEnergy Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Zips (25-6) will make their seventh-straight league championship game appearance on Saturday against the winner of tonight's other semifinal contest between second-seeded Ohio and third-seeded Western Michigan. The championship tips off at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, with the winner earning the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
Marshall shot 7-of-11 from the field, including making his only attempt from behind the 3-point arc. He also went 3-for-6 from the foul line. Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell tallied 14 points and 12 rebounds and four assists for UA, while Nick Harney scored 11 points on the strength of a 4-for-4 showing from the floor. Harney also had four assists as the Zips had 16 dishes on 22 made field goals.
Randal Holt led Kent State (20-13) with 19 points and was the Flashes' only double-digit scorer.
Akron opened the second half on a 7-3 run, including Marshall's second 3-pointer of the season, to take a 39-32 advantage. The next run would be made by Kent State as the Flashes closed to within one point (41-40) at the 14:03 mark. Harney ended the run with a bucket on Akron's next possession.
However, Kent State would take their first lead of the period at 44-43 with 12:54 left on the clock. It was the Flashes' first lead since the 13:07 mark of the first half, when the led 9-8. KSU would take a 46-43 lead into the under-12 media timeout while riding a 15-4 run.
From there, both teams traded buckets as the game went into the final eight minutes knotted at 50-all. The Zips would answer with four-straight points to open up a 54-50 lead with 5:57 left, but Kent State would use a 7-0 run to force an Akron timeout with the Zips down 57-54.
KSU would maintain its three-point advantage until Marshall closed the gap to one point (57-56) with a dunk with 1:58 remaining. A layup by Treadwell with 1:26 to go would give the Zips the lead for good as Akron closed the game on a 6-2 run.
Defense was the name of the game early on, as the contest saw just seven combined points scored by the 15:50 media timeout. Scoring would continue to be slow as the Zips would manage to grab a 10-9 lead by the under-12 media timeout (11:49). The lead came courtesy of an 8-2 run.
With the Zips ahead by three, Akron used its second 8-2 run to open up a 28-19 lead with 3:41 left, the largest advantage for either team in the opening frame. The Flashes would slowly close the gap, but the Zips would take a 32-29 lead into the intermission.
Treadwell and Reggie McAdams led the Zips' attack with seven points each as Akron shot 54.5 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent from long range in the first half. UA finished with 11 assists on 12 buckets. Kent State won the rebounding battle 17-12.
Zips Notebook: Akron's run of seven-straight title game appearances is the longest ever in the MAC and is the second-longest active streak in the nation (Gonzaga, 16) ... the Zips are now 4-2 in the MAC Tournament against Kent State, including a 4-1 mark at Quicken Loans Arena ... with the win, the Zips earned a full point for Akron in the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge and Akron leads 6.0-3.0 ... Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell now has eight double-doubles on the season while Zeke Marshall has six ... tomorrow's MAC Title game marks the ninth time in MAC Tournament history that both the men's and women's team from a single school made the finals in the same season ... the last program to do so was Kent State in 2006.