It was a banner night for Northeastern Ohio in college basketball. Cleveland State advanced to the Horizon League final after upsetting Oakland, while both Akron and Kent St. posted first-round wins in the MAC Tournament.
Kent State 61, Northern Illinois 59.
KENT, Ohio (AP) - Kevin Zabo had 19 points, including a layup as time expired, and Jalen Avery scored eight of his 13 points in the final seven-plus minutes to help Kent State slip past Northern Illinois 61-59 on Monday night in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Adonis De La Rosa scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Danny Pippen had eight points, eight rebounds and six blocks for Kent State. The fifth-seeded Golden Flashes (16-16) will play No. 4 seed Ball State in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Kent State led by as many as 10 points in the first half and Jaylin Walker's 3-pointer made it 38-29 early in the second. Northern Illinois (13-19) used 19-4 run, including seven points by Levi Bradley, to take a six-point lead with nine minutes left. Dante Thorpe's free throw gave the Huskies a 56-52 lead with 2:27 to play, but Avery hit a 3 and then made two free throws and, after Bradley made a jumper at the other end, Zabo's layup put Kent State up by one with a minute left. Eugene German hit a free throw to tie it with seven seconds remaining before Zabo took the inbound pass coast-to-coast for the winner.
Bradley had 18 points and German scored 12 for No. 12 seed Northern Illinois.
Akron 79, Western Michigan 78.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Daniel Utomi had 26 points and Freshman Virshon Cotton scored five of his 21 points in the final 45 seconds to help Akron beat Western Michigan 79-78 on Monday night in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Utomi was 9-of-12 shooting, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and Cotton had season-high-tying seven assists.
The 11th-seeded Zips will play No. 3 seed Eastern Michigan in the quarterfinals Thursday. Akron lost its only other matchup this season with the Eagles 63-49, its lowest scoring output since Dec. 16, 2014.
Cotton hit his fourth 3-pointer to give Akron (14-17) a seven-point lead with 45 seconds left, but Reggie Jones was fouled on a 3-point shot and hit all three free throws and then Thomas Wilder's steal and layup trimmed WMU's deficit to 77-75. After a steal by Josh Davis, Bryce Moore banked in a tightly-contested 3 that gave the Broncos a one-point lead with 17 seconds remaining. Cotton, driving the right side of the lane, was fouled with 1.7 second left and hit both free throws and Akron held on.
Wilder had 21 points and seven assists and Jones scored 18, including four 3-pointers, for No. 6 seed Western Michigan.