It doesn’t matter how good or bad Kent State’s opponents are, it just seems like it’s going to be one of those seasons when every game is a struggle.
Despite playing well in losses to the two best teams in the Mid-American Conference (Akron and Ohio), the inexperienced Golden Flashes have struggled against the weaker teams in the MAC, as well.
One of those teams was Wednesday’s opponent, host Northern Illinois, another young team that entered the game with only four wins. Yet the Huskies (5-14, 3-4 MAC) led most of the way and used a last-second shot at the buzzer to stun the Golden Flashes 67-65 at the NIU Convocation Center.
Northern Illinois led by eight points heading into the final two minutes and appeared to be cruising to the win but first had to withstand an offensive flurry from the Flashes (11-10, 2-5) that again tied the score.
With two minutes to go, Kent State sophomore guard Devareaux Manley made back-to-back 3-pointers in a span of about 12 seconds to aid an 8-1 run that cut the Huskies’ lead to 65-62.
Although a third clutch 3-pointer by Manley briefly tied the score, Huskies sophomore guard Abdel Nader topped off his game-high, 26-point performance with a jumper with 2.2 seconds to play to hand the Huskies the victory.
With Chris Evans (seven points) and fellow senior guard Randal Holt (nine points) struggling on offense, junior forward Darren Goodson finished with a double-double to lead the Flashes with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Kent State shot just 39 percent from the field in its fourth consecutive loss, compared to NIU’s 47 percent.
The Flashes got off to a slow start, spotting the Huskies an 11-1 lead, and Evans picked up two fouls in the first three and a half minutes and went to the bench.
Without Evans, KSU battled back to tie the score but quickly fell back behind by 11 points. The Flashes trimmed the deficit to 34-27 at halftime. Goodson led the Flashes with 12 first-half points.