**Watch coverage leading up to the big win above.**
CLEVELAND (AP) — Sincere Carry scored 26 points and Malique Jacobs added 18 as Kent State won the Mid-American Conference championship Saturday night, 93-78 over top-seeded Toledo, which had its winning streak stopped at 17 and will likely miss the NCAA Tournament for the 43rd straight year.
The second-seeded Golden Flashes (28-6) won their first tourney title since 2017 along with the conference’s automatic NCAA bid.
It’s more heartbreak for the top-seeded Rockets (27-7), who have to hope the NCAA selection committee looks at their entire body of work. However, history won’t be on their side as the MAC hasn’t had two teams in the 68-team field since 1999.
Toledo fell to 0-6 in MAC title games since last winning in 1980.
RayJ Dennis, the conference player of the year, scored 25 for the Rockets. Setric Millner Jr. added 25 and 10 rebounds for Toledo, which reeled off 17 straight wins since losing to Kent State on Jan. 10.
But with a chance to end one of the nation’s longest NCAA droughts, the Rockets couldn’t finish the job.
Jacobs added 13 rebounds and six assists while atoning for a mistake last year, when he was suspended for the first half of the title game along with three teammates after they posted a profane video on social media following the semifinals.
Toledo was still within 71-67 when the Golden Flashes went on a 10-3 run capped by Curry’s long 3-pointer as the 30-second shot expired. The 6-foot-1 senior from the Cleveland area was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
The Rockets couldn’t catch up in the final minutes as Kent State put it away at the foul line in the final minute. Appropriately, Jacobs grabbed Toledo’s last miss before celebrating with his teammates.
Toledo came in averaging 85.8 points per game — second nationally to Gonzaga — and these high-powered Rockets had scored over 100 points six times this season. But the Golden Flashes held them to a season-low 63 on Jan. 19, and Kent State’s defense was up to the task early.
Getting defensive stops, the Golden Flashes reeled off 11 points in a row to take a 27-16 lead.
With Dennis unable to get going on offense, Millner picked up the slack by scoring 11 straight points and Toledo went on an 18-6 run to briefly take the lead before Jacobs’ lay-in at the horn gave Kent State a 35-34 halftime lead.
Toledo’s NCAA dry spell has weighed heavily on the program, to the point that coach Tod Kowalczyk, who has been at the school for 13 years, felt it had become an unfair talking point.
“Everybody wants to make a big deal about 1980,” he said following Friday’s semifinals. “That’s not this team’s problem.”
Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone away.