Akron clinches NCAA tournament berth after Kent State player purposely fouls with his team leading by a point

Kent State's Julius Rollins made a mistake at an incredibly inopportune time

Kent State’s Julius Rollins made a mistake at the worst possible time in Saturday night's MAC tournament championship game.

Rollins fouled Akron’s Greg Tribble with six seconds left and his team leading 61-60. Rollins’ foul came after Cli’Ron Hornbeak hit a go-ahead jumper in the lane to give the Golden Flashes the lead.

It’s clear that Rollins thought his team was still trailing after Hornbreak’s jumper. As the rest of his teammates got back on defense, he sprinted up to commit a foul thinking his team needed another possession.

It didn’t. And Tribble made both free throws to give Akron a 62-61 lead that held up when Jalen Sullinger missed a game-winning attempt before the buzzer.

We’ve all made mental mistakes at some point in our lives, and it’s extremely unfortunate that Rollins’ mistake came when his team was so close to making the NCAA tournament. Kent State went 8-10 in the MAC in 2023-24 and knocked off Toledo and Bowling Green to have a shot to make the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.

Instead, Akron earned the conference's only postseason berth and is heading to its second NCAA tournament in the past three seasons.