Without the services of starting point guard Alex Abreu following his arrest on drug trafficking charges the Zips had a tough hill to climb beating neighborhood rival Kent State in the regular-season closing Wagon Wheel game. Despite a hard rally in the second half, the University of Akron squad fell short in sending a message they were whole and ready to go heading into next week's MAC Tournament rounds.
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(University of Akron athletics) Despite a late second-half rally, The University of Akron men's basketball team lost 68-64 to neighborhood rival Kent State on Friday at James A. Rhodes Arena in the latest edition of the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge.
The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Zips (24-6, 14-2 Mid-American) against the Flashes (19-12, 9-7 MAC) and ended a 15-game home win streak.
Three Akron players scored in double-figure points, led by Zeke Marshall's 14, Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell's 13 and Reggie McAdams' 12. Treadwell also grabbed 13 rebounds to tally his seventh double-double of the year. Marshall had eight boards for the Zips who out-rebounded the Flashes 44-39 overall and 24-12 on the offensive glass.
With his five blocked shots, Marshall also set the MAC's single-season blocked shots record with 109.
Kent State was led by Darren Goodson's 19 points and team-high eight rebounds.
Treadwell and Marshall got the Akron faithful on their feet to start the second half, scoring six points in the lane to spark the offense. The 6-2 run forced Kent State to call timeout with its lead reduced to 42-31.
The Golden Flashes responded and went into the under-12 media timeout leading 46-32.
Akron once again trimmed the lead down to 11 (50-39) with 8:50 left, in which the lead would hover there for the next few minutes. A 9-3 run would put the Zips back in the game, capped off by a Chauncey Gilliam floater, cutting the deficit to 57-51 heading into the final three minutes of the game.
With KSU up nine, the Jake Kretzer and McAdams hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 64-61 with 28 seconds remaining. Akron would then start fouling to conserve clock. However, the Zips would not be able to overcome the deficit and would fall 68-64.
The Zips scored the first two buckets of the game, both by Marshall with the assist from Carmelo Betancourt, but made just two of their next 10 shots to fall behind 14-9 by the 11:31 media timeout.
Akron kept the margin close until back-to-back buckets gave the Golden Flashes a 26-15 lead with 7:50 left in the opening half. Three minutes later, the Akron deficit was 34-18, forcing the Zips to call timeout with 4:46 left in the half.
The Kent State lead would remain in double figures as Akron went to the locker room down 40-25.
The Zips finished the first 20 minutes shooting 34.4 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from behind the arc. Kent State shot 46.7 percent in the opening half and forced eight UA turnovers, while the rebounding battle was knotted at 19-all.
Treadwell led the Zips with six points and four boards in the half. Betancourt, McAdams and Marshall finished with five points each. Betancourt finished with three assists, one steal and one turnover.
The Zips will open the MAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will play in the semifinals on Friday, March 15, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. ET and the contest will air live on SportsTime Ohio.
Zips Notebook: The Zips honored seniors Chauncey Gilliam, Zeke Marshall and Brian Walsh before the game ... Carmelo Betancourt made his second-collegiate start, his first since starting the season opener at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 9 ... Akron leads the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge 5.5-3.5 following tonight's outcome ... Marshall passed Ohio's Patrick Flomo (105) for the MAC's single-season blocked shots mark with his second swat of the night ... tonight's 24 offensive rebounds marked the fourth time this year the Zips had 20-plus boards on the offensive glass.