KENT, OHIO – The Kent State Golden Flashes extended their winning streak to three games Thursday night, defeating the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe, 74-62, in the first game of the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at the MAC Center.
Playing its first home game . . .
“Was happy to get the win.” KSU head coach Rob Senderoff said. “We really played well in the second half. I thought the whole team did in the second half.”
Fifth-year seniors Kellon Thomas and Xavier Pollard led the Flashes with 16 points each. Thomas was 3-of-5 from three-point range while Pollard added five rebounds, an assist and a steal. In addition, Pollard scored 13 of his points in the second half. Freshman Jalin Walker added 11 points going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line with an assist and two steals.
Louisiana-Monroe (4-3) played without its best player, senior Majok Deng. He was out with an undisclosed injury, while head coach Keith Richard was sidelined with a virus and not on the bench.
The visitors Sun Belt Conference visitors took advantage of a slow start from the Flashes, as well as some hot shooting on their own part, to take a 35-33 lead at halftime.ULM shot 53.8 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes (14-of-26). Four of their first seven baskets came from beyond the arc.
The Warhawks had three players in double figures on the evening, led by senior Jamaal Samuel, who led all scorers in the game with 18 points. He also recorded seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
For the third consecutive game, KSU used a big second half run to take the lead. Saturday against Cleveland State, the Flashes used a 12-1 run for a 66-62 win. Monday night at NJIT, it was a 14-5 spurt en route to an 80-75 victory.
In Thursday night’s burst, the Flashes used a 14-4 run to open 64-52 lead with 2:55 remaining on a driving layup by Thomas. KSU’s largest lead of the game was 13 points 72-59 with 1:11 remaining on a layup by senior Chris Ortiz before winning by 11.
There is little time to rest for the Golden Flashes as they are back in action on Saturday night in the second game of the Las Vegas Tire Classic -- again at the MAC Center -- where they face the Golden Griffins of Canisius, who lost Monday night at Penn State 81-67.