Kent Comes Back, Then Holds Off Eastern Michigan

Updated 3/3/2000
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    Flashes Advances to Fifth Straight Championship Game with 96-94 Double-Overtime Victory

    CLEVELAND (March 3, 2000) -- Top-seeded Kent State University came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half and a seven-point margin in the first overtime to hold off upset-minded Eastern Michigan University 96-94 in double overtime in a Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal March 3 at Public Hall.

    MAC Player of the Year Dawn Zerman (Fremont, Ohio/Ross) hit 3-of-4 free-throw attempts in the final nine seconds and then picked the pocket of Jessica Henry (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth) with one second to play to seal the win. Zerman, who also was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year, saved the day for the Golden Flashes (24-5) in the first overtime, taking a charge on EMU sophomore Stephanie Smiley (Holt, Mich./Holt) near the basket with two seconds left and the game tied 82-82.

    The Golden Flashes, who extended their winning streak to nine, had to fight their way back virtually the entire game against the high-flying Eagles (16-14). Eastern Michigan led by as many as 12 points at 52-40 at the 11:16 mark of the second half and held a 75-67 lead with 1:31 left in the game. But Kent was not finished. Zerman hit two free throws to cut the lead to 75-73 with 16 seconds left and then drove for a layup off a Carrie Nance (Goodrich, Mich./Goodrich) steal just four seconds later.

    Eastern Michigan had one more shot, but sophomore Kris Kachaturoff's (Dearborn, Mich./Dearborn) turnaround in the lane bounced around the rim before falling off as time expired.

    Zerman scored eight of her team-high 22 points in the second half, and also finished with nine rebounds and eight assists. Junior center Julie Studer (Mansfield, Ohio/Lexington) had 21 points, including six in the extra periods, and pulled down a team-best 11 rebounds.

    "This was a game that anyone could have won," said Kent Head Coach Bob Lindsay. "At the end, it just came down to making the plays and that is an ability our team has had all year. We know how to find a way to win."

    In the first overtime, Eastern Michigan scored the first seven points to go up 82-75 at the 3:26 mark, but Kent responded again. Alana Bader's (Kennan, Wis./Phillips) three-pointer jumpstarted the Flashes and redshirt freshman Amanda Wolke's (Baroda, Mich./Lakeshore) layup with 53 seconds left capped a 7-0 run to tie the score at 82-82 and force the second overtime.

    Kachaturoff (Dearborn, Mich./Dearborn) nearly carried the Eagles into their first MAC Tournament championship game with a career-high 25 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Junior Kristy Maska (Britton, Mich./Britton Macon) had 22 points and senior Amy Crickard (Sarnia, Ontario/St. Patrick's) added 16.

    The Golden Flashes, who have won 21 of their last 22 games since Dec. 11, tied the school record with their 24th victory and now advance to the tournament title game for the fifth straight time. Kent will face the winner of the Western Michigan University-University of Toledo game for the MAC's automatic NCAA Tournament berth Saturday at 5:45 p.m. The Golden Flashes have faced Toledo in each of the last four championship games.