Senior guard Jaylin Walker poured in a career-high 36 points and fueled a dramatic rally in the final minutes that lifted the Kent State men's basketball team past host Detroit Mercy 76-72 Wednesday night at Calihan Hall.
The Golden Flashes (6-1) trailed 70-62 with 1:22 to play when Walker, playing 20 miles away from his hometown of Inkster, converted a three-point play then drained two 3-pointers to bring his team within one. Senior forward Akiean Frederick was then fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and made both free throws to put the Flashes up one with 32 seconds left.
Senior point guard Jalen Avery split a pair of free throws after Detroit Mercy star freshman guard Antoine Davis missed a 3. After the Titans’ Derrien King misfired on a 3, Walker then made two free throws with two seconds left to seal it.
Walker tied his career high with seven 3-pointers in 15 attempts, and knocked down all nine of his free throws. He also grabbed six rebounds.
“[Walker] made some huge, huge plays down the stretch. He had a lot of people here, and they left happy,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “He made one shot on a play that we had just put in today that they executed on their own. The composure and competitiveness that they played with was really great to see. I'm very proud of this group.”
Junior guard Antonio Williams finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals for Kent State, which ran its winning streak to four by handing the Titans (3-4) their first loss in four outings. Frederick added six points and seven rebounds, and Avery (3 points) dished out five assists while suffering through a fitful 0-for-9 shooting night.
Kent State appeared all but done when Davis hit a jumper to put Detroit up 70-62 with 1:36 to play. But the Titans couldn't manage another field goal, missed the front end of a one-and-one and committed two crucial turnovers that Kent State turned into five points.
“We never quit, made big plays and got big stops when we needed to,” Senderoff said. “We finished the game with unbelievable energy and competitiveness. It's a great win for our team.”