Senior Night Heroics And Toughness Clinch First-Round-Bye For Kent State
Written by Dante Centofanti on March 9, 2019
KENT- Antonio Williams in his first season as a Golden Flash has shown a flair for the dramatic, and a knack for being clutch; however, it’s not something he feels he necessarily has.
“I’m just gonna do what my team needs,” Williams said. “I just call it being the glue guy.”
The Chicago kid had quite the showcase of hustle in the first half of this senior night contest as the Flashes defeated Akron 68-65 at home. He had a key three at the end of the first half with 1:58 to go that would give Kent State the lead. Akron would be in front for the majority of the half and would go into halftime with a 30-29 lead.
The second half was quite the story. The toughness and grit of a rivalry going back to the Truman administration was on full display. At the 16:13 mark Antonio Williams and junior C.J. Williamson would get into a skirmish that would cause Akron coach John Groce to go onto the floor and separate his players. Guard Tyler Cheese, Jimond Ivey, Williams and Williamson all received double technical fouls.
With over seven minutes left in the first half, this game was a classic rivalry shootout. The M.A.C. Center seemed desperate for something to get excited about as Akron had the lead. Freshman Anthony Roberts had a breakaway layup off a steel, and then a tip in by Phillip Whittington on a Jalen Avery missed three would put Kent State in front 52-50. Whittington would finish with 21 points and six rebounds.
Williams made it clear that he does what his team needs.With over a minute to go the Junior from Proviso East High School had a transition bucket, followed by an off-balanced bucket to put the Flashes up by 66-63. With time winding down, the Flashes would lead by a point when a fight for the rebound ensued after a Jaylen Avery missed layup. Antonio Williams recovered the loose rock to seal the game for the Flashes.
Williams finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. The Flashes split the season series with Akron, as they get revenge for the 72-53 loss they suffered early February in Akron.
“I don’t like losing,” Williams said after the game.“We need games like this; we’re meant for these types of games.”
Coach Rob Senderoff credited both teams for their willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
“It was a great college basketball game, coach Rob Senderoff said. “I think anybody who came to the game tonight would say those are two good teams playing really really hard. Senior nights obviously an emotional night for everybody, and the way we won this game showed tremendous heart and toughness.”
Kent State honored seniors Akiean Frederick, Jalen Avery and Jaylin Walker before the game. Frederick finished with two points, six rebounds and one assist. Avery finished with 18 points. Jaylin Walker did not play in this game; coach Senderoff made the decision to not play him and would not comment further.
With this win, the Flashes clinched a first-round-bye to the MAC tournament next week at Quicken Loans Arena. They will take on the winner of the Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan contest in the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Cleveland.