Ohio falls on last-second shot

Published 10:22 pm Friday, March 10, 2017

CLEVELAND (AP) — Jaylin Walker dropped an off-balance runner over two defenders with 4.1 seconds left, giving Kent State a 68-66 semifinal win over Ohio on Friday night and setting up a date with rival Akron in the championship of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Walker, who later said he didn’t know the game was tied, drove the length of the floor before making his tough basket to put the Golden Flashes up by two.

Ohio had a last chance, but guard Jaaron Simmons dribble into traffic and the Bobcats were unable to get off a shot before the clock expired.

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Jimmy Hall scored 22 points — 14 in the second half — for the sixth-seeded Golden Flashes (21-13), who will meet the top-seeded Zips (26-7) on Saturday night for the title and the MAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Simmons scored 25 and Kenny Kaminski added 16 for the second-seeded Bobcats (20-11). Simmons could have given Ohio the lead with 10.8 seconds to go, but missed the second of two free throws.

Hall scored 24 in Kent State’s quarterfinal win over two-time defending champion Buffalo, and the 6-foot-8 native of Brooklyn, New York, was Kent State’s go-to guy throughout a back-and-forth second half.

But it was 3-pointers by Kevin Zabo and Jalen Avery that gave the Golden Flashes a 64-56 lead and had some Kent State fans making plans for a rematch with Akron, which won the regular-season finale between the schools.

Ohio, though, wasn’t going down without a fight and Kaminski’s 3-pointer from the corner pulled with the Bobcats within 66-65 with 48 seconds left.

After Avery missed for Kent State, Simmons was fouled on a questionable bump. The junior guard made the first free throw, but missed the second and Walker took it from there, racing down court and sinking his shot despite some contact.

Ohio called timeout and appeared to have a play designed for a last-second 3, but Simmons lost track of time and space and the Bobcats’ tourney ended without a final fling toward the rim.

Kent State, which ended Akron’s 30-game home winning streak earlier this season, will be playing in its first title game since 2011.

The Golden Flashes haven’t been in the NCAA field since 2008.

KENT ST. 68, OHIO 66
KENT ST. (21-13)
Hall 8-17 6-7 22, Edwin 2-3 0-0 5, Avery 2-7 0-0 6, Peterson 3-6 0-1 8, J.Walker 3-11 3-6 9, De La Rosa 1-1 1-1 3, Zabo 5-10 1-2 15, Ridenour 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 11-17 68.
OHIO (20-11)
Carter 2-5 0-0 4, Kaminski 5-12 2-2 16, Simmons 10-20 3-6 25, Dartis 2-7 0-0 4, Block 2-4 3-3 7, Taylor 2-3 4-6 8, Laster 1-3 0-0 2, Culver 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 12-17 66.
Halftime—Ohio 34-32. 3-Point Goals—Kent St. 9-27 (Zabo 4-6, Peterson 2-5, Avery 2-7, Edwin 1-2, Ridenour 0-1, J.Walker 0-6), Ohio 6-17 (Kaminski 4-7, Simmons 2-5, Laster 0-1, Dartis 0-4). Fouled Out—Carter. Rebounds—Kent St. 36 (Hall 10), Ohio 27 (Simmons 7). Assists—Kent St. 12 (Hall 4), Ohio 8 (Dartis 4). Total Fouls—Kent St. 17, Ohio 19.