Bringing their bitter backyard rival into their building brought out the best in the Kent State men’s basketball team.
The Golden Flashes played with grit and determination from start to finish while earning a 67-55 victory over rival Akron in a nationally televised Friday night clash at the M.A.C. Center.
Kent State’s defense held a Zips team that had won seven of its last eight games to its lowest point total since late November on 35 percent shooting from the field and a 4-of-24 effort from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Flashes junior guard Sincere Carry made his first matchup against Akron a memorable one, tying a career-high he originally established at Duquesne with 32 points.
Carry shot 11-of-17 from the field and 6-of-10 from 3-point range. He scored 19 points in the final 9:14, when Kent State outscored Akron 23-13 to pull away.
Flashes senior forward Tervell Beck scored nine of his 11 points in the first half and grabbed five rebounds, grad student guard Andrew Garcia posted seven points and six boards, and junior guard Malique Jacobs added six points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Seven players grabbed three or more rebounds for Kent State, which dominated the glass 40-29.
While the Zips (9-5, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) entered the contest on a hot streak, the Flashes (8-8, 3-3) were fresh off a discouraging 65-63 home loss to a 3-8 Northern Illinois squad that left them 4-4 at the M.A.C. Center this season. Kent State has won over 80 percent of its home games since the 1998-99 season, and played like it on Friday.
The Flashes survived a torrid start by Akron junior guard Xavier Casteneda, a South Florida transfer, who buried three early 3s and scored 11 points in the first 8:30 to help his team take a 17-13 lead. Carry and Beck teamed up to help the Flashes take a 32-29 halftime lead, combining for 22 first-half points.
The contest remained tight, with Kent State clinging to a five-point lead at the 6:32 mark. The Flashes reeled off 10 straight points to take command, and Carry scored eight of them – hitting 3-pointers to both start and end the spurt that put Kent State up 63-48 with 2:36 to play.
Casteneda wound up with 21 points for the Zips, but hit just one of three field-goal tries while being hounded by Jacobs in the final 20 minutes. Sophomore forward Enrique Freeman added 13 points and seven boards for Akron.
This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Kent State defeated visiting Akron 67-55 on Friday