MAC MBB Championship: Kent State spoils Toledo’s historic season, defeat Rockets 93-78

Steve Iwanek, Sports Content Director, Falcon Media Sports Network

Sincere Carry scored 26 points, Malique Jacobs added 18, and the Golden Flashes dominated in the paint as Kent State defeated Toledo in the 2023 Mid-American Conference Championship game last night, 93-78.

Coming into the contest, Toledo had not lost a game since Jan. 10.

That loss? Kent State.

The Golden Flashes came into the game known for their prominent backcourt, as Carry is a member of the all-MAC first team, Jacobs was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Jalen Sullinger was named the MAC Sixth Player of the Year.

On the flip side, the Rockets had quite the team themselves, headlined by MAC Player of the Year, RayJ Dennis.

Toledo got off to a 8-2 start in the first half, but the Golden Flashes went on multiple runs to take a slim 35-34 lead into halftime.

In the second half, the Rockets got within one point multiple times, but could never reclaim the lead. A late 33-19 run in the final 10 minutes of the game sealed the deal for the midnight blue and gold.

The most surprising stat though came in the battle inside, as Kent State finished with a +18 differential in points in the paint (44-26).

Dennis finished the night tied for a team high in points with 25 alongside Setric Milner Jr. Dennis also registered six rebounds and three assists, while Milner had 10 rebounds for a double-double.

With the win, Kent State is back in the NCAA Tournament and clinched their first MAC tournament title since 2017.

Toledo’s streak of failing to make the NCAA Tournament reaches 43 years with this loss, which head coach Tod Kowalczyk says is more painful than ever.

“Obviously it was a tough pill to swallow,” said Kowalczyk. “We were extremely confident. Everyone talks about how you want to be playing your best basketball down the stretch. That was us. That was us last year, too. This one hurts more than any of them.”

The Rockets are now 0-6 in MAC tournament title games since 1980.

For the Golden Flashes, they await to see who they face first in the “big dance”.

Selection Sunday is tonight, March 12, at 6 PM on CBS immediately following the Big Ten Championship.