KENT: Another strong team effort allowed Kent State to overcome a second consecutive opponent featuring a 30-point plus scorer, as the Golden Flashes edged Youngstown State 83-79 on Wednesday night at the M.A.C. Center.
Senior forward Kamren Belin led the Penguins (6-2) with a career-high 32 points, including 25 in the second half. Belin came out of the locker room at halftime with the hot hand, scoring 19 of the Penguins’ next 26 points.
Belin made a 3-pointer with 47 seconds to go that made it a one-possession game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a strong finish by the Flashes, who had five players score in double figures.
Both teams got off to slow starts offensively, with the score tied at just 12-12 with just under 12 minutes to go in the first half.
Kent State’s lack of hustle out of the gate became obvious two minutes later when Belin missed a 3-point attempt, but beat the Flashes to the ball in the lane and scored on a put-back to give YSU a 17-14 lead with 10:37 to go in the half.
The score seesawed back and forth until the final 3:33 of the first half when the Flashes began to score consistently from 3-point range. Three-pointers by Derek Jackson, Dev Manley and Kris Brewer allowed Kent State (7-1) to begin pulling away.
Darren Goodson’s layup at the buzzer gave KSU a 42-30 halftime lead.
Jackson led all scorers with nine points in the first half and Brewer and Manley each chipped in eight for the Flashes.
But KSU missed its first four shots of the second half and a 6-0 Youngstown State run cut the lead in half two minutes into the half.
The Penguins went on to erase the deficit completely, extending their run to 14-2 to tie the game 44-44 at the 15:36 mark.
But just as quickly as YSU pulled even, sophomore guard K.K. Simmons made back-to-back 3-pointers for the Flashes and scored eight of his team’s next 10 points. With a 10-5 run, KSU built a six-point advantage.
Youngstown State steadily chipped away at the lead, using back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 65-64 with 8:13 to go.
But the Flashes began to distance themselves for good with a 10-3 run beginning at the 6:18 mark, opening a nine-point lead with just over three minutes to go before sealing the victory at the free-throw line.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.