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Kent State men's basketball advances to MAC championship game; Akron next

Mar. 15—Kent State's improbable run in the Mid-American Conference men's basketball tournament continued March 15 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

The No. 8 seed Golden Flashes scored their second straight upset in Cleveland and are now one win from an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

Kent State (17-16) defeated No. 5 seed Bowling Green, 72-60, thanks to a night of red-hot shooting. It shot 26 of 51 from the field (51%) but was off the charts from 3-point range, making 12 of 18 from beyond the arc.

"Unbelievable job across the board," said Kent State coach Rob Senderoff in his postgame news conference. "... It's great to play in another (MAC) championship game because it's not easy to do. We have 40 more minutes to play, and we're excited about it."

The Cinderella Golden Flashes play Akron in the MAC championship game March 16 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2. It's the third straight season Kent State will play in the MAC title game.

Jalen Sullinger and Giovanni Santiago led the way for Kent State, especially from long range.

Sullinger had a team-high 22 points and made five 3-pointers. Santiago was just behind with 20, including a career-high six 3s.

Bowling Green (20-13) got 22 points from Marcus Hill and Rashaun Agee added 15 points and seven rebounds.

The Golden Flashes had a 34-28 advantage at halftime then outscored BG, 39-32, in the second half. Kent State's biggest lead was 15 points.

BG outrebounded Central Michigan by 20 in its quarterfinal win, but Kent State won the battle of the boards, 33-29.

Enrique Freeman's huge game pushed Akron into the MAC championship game and helped the Zips to a 65-62 win over Ohio in a MAC semifinal.

Freeman scored 24 points and had 21 rebounds and seven blocks. Teammate Ali Ali added 16 points and eight rebounds and Sammy Hunter had 14 points on four 3-pointers.

The Bobcats were led by Jaylin Hunter's 17 points and five rebounds.

The No. 2 seed Zips improved to 23-10 and No. 3 seed Ohio fell to 20-13.