Akron heads to NCAA Tournament thanks to brutal Kent State foul in final seconds

Akron heads to NCAA Tournament thanks to brutal Kent State foul in final seconds

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Akron toppled Kent State to win the MAC Tournament and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night. 

But that may not have been the case if Kent State’s Julius Rollins hadn’t committed a brutal intentional foul with just six seconds remaining in a one-point game. 

The Golden Flashes went up by one point, 61-60, when Cli’Ron Hornbeak hit a go-ahead tip-in. However, Rollins clearly thought Kent State was still down in the game when Akron’s Greg Tribble took the inbounds pass. 

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Akron Zips guard Shammah Scott at the foul line during the Kent State Golden Flashes game on Feb. 23, 2024, at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rollins quickly fouled Tribble, who went to the free-throw line immediately with Akron in the bonus. 

Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff was in dismay on the bench, as he ran up and down and put his hands on his head knowing that Akron had a chance to retake the lead. 

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And they did just that, with Tribble hitting both of his free throws to make it a 62-61 game. Still, Kent State had a chance for redemption when Jalen Sullinger took a shot at the buzzer, but it was no good. 

Mental mistakes can come at any time in sports, but when they happen in the final seconds of a championship game, the sting is far worse. 

Akron Zips guard Greg Tribble drives

Akron Zips guard Greg Tribble drives to the basket between Kent State Golden Flashes guards Tyem Freeman and Giovanni Santiago on Feb. 23, 2024, at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kent State went 17-16 during the regular season this year and 8-10 in the MAC, which earned them the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament. They weren’t expected to reach the final against No. 2 Akron, who went 23-10 with a 13-5 conference record. 

In March, anything can happen on a college basketball court. And with so many feel-good stories this time of year, there are usually some blunders behind them. 

Zips guard Kaleb Thornton drives

Zips guard Kaleb Thornton drives to the basket as Kent State Golden Flashes forward Chris Payton Jr. defends on Feb. 23, 2024, in Akron. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Akron will await their seeding and first opponent in the NCAA Tournament on this Selection Sunday, while Rollins and Kent State think about what could’ve been after a disappointing end to the season. 

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