KENT, Ohio – The University of Akron women's basketball team swept rival Kent State for the first time in school history, returning to its winning ways with a 77-71 road victory Saturday afternoon at the M.A.C Center.
With the win, Akron (18-8, 9-4) ties the program record for most victories in a single season set in 2009-10. It is also the first time the Zips have gone on the road to defeat Kent State (3-23, 1-12) since Jan. 26, 1988, when UA won 76-72.
The victory gives UA the remaining half point toward the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge.
MAC East Player of the Week Rachel Tecca led all scorers with 20 points, 17 of which came in the second half as the forward connected on 8-of-9 attempts in the second period alone.
Kent State fed off two 19-point performances from Tamzin Barriolhet and Ashley Evans, and Barriolhet added 12 rebounds.
The Golden Flashes came out of the gate firing away, jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead on an easy layup from Diamon Beckford and a 3-pointer from Trisha Krewson. Kent State held on to its slim advantage until the 13:08 mark when Cassell dished to Carly Young on a backdoor cut for a layup, putting the Zips up 12-11.
The score tied three more times over the next five minutes with neither team falling into much of a rhythm. Young split a pair of free throws to give the Zips a one-point advantage that they slowly grew to 10 by the 4:48 mark of the half. Young finished the opening period 6-of-9 from the charity stripe with eight points and six rebounds.
Akron's defense succeeded in holding Kent State scoreless for more than seven minutes in the later part of the first half, but the Flashes would score seven points in the last 1:21 before the break to cut the deficit to six points at 31-25 in favor of UA.
From the opening possession of the second half it was all Tecca all the time, as she carried the offense on 89 percent shooting from the field. Kent's center, Leslie Schaefer, fouled out at the 17:54 mark of the second half after playing just 11 minutes, allowing Akron to pound the ball inside to Tecca and set her up for 10-straight points in less than six minutes.
Taking Tecca's cue, Akron built its lead back up to 10 by the 10:30 mark where it hovered for a majority of the contest that remained.
The Zips were never able to officially break the game wide open, but they made the most of their trips to the free throw line down the stretch to maintain separation from the Flashes. Akron's last 13-straight points came from the charity stripe, while Kent State finished the day with as many personal fouls as field goals – 26.
UA returns home for two of its final three games of the regular season, starting Thursday, Feb. 28 when the Zips host Ohio at 7 p.m.