CLEVELAND (AP) -- Senior Omni Smith scored 14 points and led a second-half surge that carried Kent State to a 75-66 win over Western Michigan and into the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament Thursday night.
Freshman Chris Singletary added 12 points for the Golden Flashes (21-10), the defending tournament champs, who will meet bitter rival Akron in Friday's second semifinal. The two teams just played on Sunday with the Zips edging Kent State 66-64 in overtime to win the MAC East title.As the clock ticked down in the final seconds, Kent's fans chanted, "We want Akron."Top-seeded Toledo will play No. 4 seed Miami of Ohio in Friday's first semifinal.Down by five after halftime, Kent State went on a 16-3 run to take a 56-48 lead on Singletary's baseline jumper with 10:25 to play.The Golden Flashes extended their lead to 70-58 before the Broncos (16-16), who beat Kent State by 22 during the regular season, scored eight straight to cut the deficit to four on freshman David Kool's free throws.But Kent State took care of the ball down the stretch and made five free throws in the final 1:20, advancing to the semis for the fifth time in six years.Joe Reitz scored 15 points and Kool, the league's top first-year player, had 14 for Western Michigan.Hoping to get a rematch and set up a semifinal showdown with their enemy from down Interstate 76, the Golden Flashes reeled off 16 straight points in the first half to open a 37-24 lead before the Broncos recovered.Derek Drews drained a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left and then hit a 15-foot jumper with two seconds to go as Western Michigan closed the first 20 minutes with an 11-0 run to pull within 38-35 at the break.