Kellon Thomas was 8-of-10 from the free-throw line in the final 2:18 and Kent State held off Central Michigan 83-75 in a Mid-American Conference cross-over game Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.
Behind by nine at halftime, Central Michigan, with just one win in 12 MAC games, rallied and took the lead midway through the second half.
Mark Henninger’s layup with 13:11 to play tied the score at 41-41 and sparked Kent State to a 20-9 run that gave the Flashes an 11-point lead with 6:25 left.
Thomas and Chris Ortiz each scored 17 points to lead the Golden Flashes (14-11, 5-7 MAC). Kris Brewer added 14 points and Derek Jackson contributed 13.
“Big win for us tonight,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “At this time of the year we need them. There are no routine wins, not just at Kent State, but in this league.”
Chris Fowler score 19 points on 5-of-11 shooting to lead the Chippewas (8-16, 1-11), with Blake Hibbitts and Braylon Rayson each adding 12 points and John Simons 11.
Despite being outrebounded 29-26, KSU was able win the transition game, outscoring the Chippewas 15-7 in fast-break points.
The Flashes were hot from the field, making 31-of-49 field-goal attempts (63.3 percent), including 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) on 3-pointers. CMU made 26-of-59 (44.1 percent) from the floor.
“We don’t have a guy like [Buffalo’s Javon] McCrea or [Akron’s Demetrius] Treadwell to win,” Senderoff said. “Everyone that steps onto the floor needs to play well.”
Led by Jackson’s six, the Flashes also won the assists battle 18-9 and Senderoff said Jackson was a key for KSU.
“I thought Derek Jackson followed up with another big game from the previous game,” Senderoff said.
Jackson had 25 points in a win over Bowling Green on Wednesday.
The Flashes will be looking to make it three wins in a row when they travel to Oxford to take on Miami University on Wednesday.