Ohio Wins a Close One Against Kent, 69-68

Updated 3/6/2000
CLEVELAND (March 5)(AP) -- Sanjay Adell's driving leaner with 1.7 seconds left moved Ohio into the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament with a 69-68 quarterfinal win Sunday over Kent.

The sixth-seeded Bobcats (20-12) capped a wild day of surprises and nail-biting finishes at Gund Arena by eliminating the third-seeded Golden Flashes (21-7).

Both Kent and Bowling Green, arguably the league's top two teams, were knocked off as the MAC showed why it might be the country's most balanced conference. The four quarterfinal games were decided by a total of six points and two of the games went into overtime.

Kent, which entered the tourney ranked 27th in the RPI and 31 in the Sagarin Ratings, now has to hope it did enough during the regular season to impress the NCAA Tournament Committee.

Ohio advanced to play Ball State in Monday night's second semifinal. The Cardinals beat Toledo 64-63 in overtime in one of Sunday's thrilling

quarterfinal matchups.

In the first semifinal No. 9 seed Miami of Ohio, which stunned top seed Bowling Green 58-56, will play Marshall. The Thundering Herd advanced with a 58-56 win over Central Michigan.

Adell scored 21 points and freshman Steve Esterkamp had 17 for the Bobcats, who led by 10 points with 4:07 left but had to hold off a furious Kent comeback led by Trevor Huffman.

Huffman, who finished with 21 points, scored 13 points in the final 3:58. His free throws with 12.1 seconds remaining had given Kent its first lead since the first half at 68-67.

Following a timeout, Ohio pushed the ball quickly up the floor and Bobcats forward Shaun Stonerook was tied up near the baseline. But Ohio had the possession arrow and Adell took an inbounds pass, muscled inside and scored to make it 69-68.

Kent was then assessed a technical foul for calling a timeout it didn't have, and Golden Flashes coach Gary Waters raced onto the floor to protest.

Esterkamp missed both free throws, and Ohio was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock before Kent had a chance to foul.

Kent was outscored 32-8 over a 12-minute stretch that began with 4:57 left in the first half, and things got so bad the Golden Flashes were hit with a technical foul when they came out of a timeout with six players on the floor.

Esterkamps's two free throws gave Ohio a 47-35 lead, but the Golden Flashes weren't quite done.

Kent's full-court press got some turnovers and Huffman scored 18 points in the final 10:55.

Kent got little from center John Whorton. Whorton, who averages 12.9 points and nearly six rebounds per game, had two points and two rebounds in 22 minutes.

The Bobcats, who beat Kent by 10 points last week, switched to a zone defense late in the first half and closed with a 12-0 run to tie it 27-27 at the break.