"We found a way to win a tough game," said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff, whose Flashes improved to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in MAC play. "That's what you have to do in the Mid-American Conference. You have to find ways to win tough ones, and it’s even more satisfying when you can do it on the road on a night when you don't play quite as well as you'd like to. Devareaux Manley was great for us in the second half, and Marquiez Lawrence and Kris Brewer hit some big free throws."
Lawrence drilled two from the line with 55 seconds to play to give Kent State a 65-63 lead. After Anthony Johnson pulled down an offensive rebound and scored inside for NIU, Brewer broke the last tie, hitting the deciding free throws with 15 seconds to play.
Anthony Johnson missed a runner in the lane for Northern Illinois (7-6, 1-1) with four seconds to play. The ball was batted around under the basket before Chris Ortiz secured the rebound for Kent State just as the buzzer sounded.
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After a first half that saw the teams play to a 29-29 tie, the final 20 minutes turned into a battle between Manley for Kent State and Jordan Threloff of Northern Illinois.
"Devareaux was 0-for-3 in a scoreless first half, but then he really heated up," said Senderoff. "When he gets going, he is as good as anyone. He hit 5-for-5 from three in the second half, and we needed every one of them."
Threloff scored 15 of his game-high 21 after halftime. The 6-foot-9 senior also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, helping the Huskies win the rebounding battle 39-30 and take a 19-4 advantage in second-chance points. Northern also dominated the paint to the tune of 36-18.
Kent State's biggest advantage came from the three-point arc, where the Flashes converted 40 percent of their shots (6-of-15) compared to Northern's 18 percent (2-for-11).
The Flashes also hit 21-of-27 from the foul line – a solid 77.8 percent for a team that began the day 59.5 percent of its free throws. Kent State was 11-of-13 from the line (83.3 percent) in the second half, including the all-important makes by Brewer and Lawrence in the closing minute.
The win ended Northern Illinois' school-record 11-game winning streak at home.
Kent State will return to the M.A.C. Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to face Eastern Michigan. Northern Illinois is at Buffalo (7 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of Kent State Athletics/MRO Edit)