"Hard fought MAC road win, that's what I'd call it," said head coach Rob Senderoff. "We defended, got some big offensive rebounds when we needed them and made the free throws that we needed to make down the stretch."
The Flashes and Eagles dueled . . .
Each team shot under 40 percent from the floor, with the Flashes finishing at 35.1 percent (20-for-57). Still, the Flashes found a way to win by hauling down 25 offensive rebounds, 48 total, and earning a season-high 36 free throw attempts.
"Team effort on the glass," Senderoff stated. "Jimmy (Hall) dominated with nine offensive boards and another double-double. He hit some big, big shots there to give us the lead late in the second half."
Kent State was once again led by a superb effort from Hall, who recorded team-bests of 24 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals. Nine of his rebounds came on offense, helping Kent State score 22 second chance points. Hall has now recorded five double-doubles in his last six games.
Mitch Peterson and Jaylin Walker scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, and were perfect in the final minute on crucial free throw attempts. Peterson tallied a career-high nine boards, while Walker pulled in three.
The first half was highlighted by two runs from each team. Kent State went on its run immediately, jumping out to a 9-0 lead at the first media timeout. The Flashes held onto the lead through the first 10 minutes of the game, but an Eastern Michigan 10-0 run gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 20-18. The game was played within a possession until the Eagles scored the last five points of the first half to give themselves a 35-31 halftime lead.
The game continued to stay tight at the start of the second half, as Mitch Peterson tied the game with back-to-back buckets. The majority of the second half was played within five points, with Kent State answering each time the Eagles attempted to break away.
Kent State moved out front over the final five minutes, starting with three straight jumpers from Hall that put his team up, 59-56. After the Eagles scored at the foul line, Walker hit a corner 3-pointer that put his team up by four points with 2:40 to go.
It would be Kent State's final field goal of the game. Down the stretch, KSU repeatedly went to the line and cashing in by making its last eight free throw attempts.
With 39 seconds remaining, Eastern Michigan's Ty Toney made two free throws to knot the score. The Flashes could not convert a field goal on the ensuing possession, but fought for two offensive boards.
Walker came up with the second and attacked the basket, drawing a flagrant-1 foul. The foul gave Walker two free throw attempts, in which he made both, while Kent State reclaimed possession of the ball.
Peterson was fouled on the inbounds pass and knocked down two more attempts, giving Kent State a four-point lead in just two seconds of playing time. The Flashes earned a stop on Eastern Michigan's quick layup attempt, and Peterson was fouled after his rebound to score the final two points of the game.
"Jimmy fouled out with about three minutes to go, but guys stuck together," said Senderoff. "We really struggled to shoot the ball, but guys stuck together. We turned it over too much, but guys stuck together. At the end of the day, when you do those things, you have a chance to be successful."
Kent State has now won three of its last four games, with the lone loss coming in overtime. The Flashes will finish their road trip Saturday at Miami at 3:30 p.m. ET
"Hopefully we continue to progress in league play," said Senderoff. "A lot of this is new for a number of guys on the roster: Playing in road games and in important games. We are just trying to get better as the season goes along."
Eastern Michigan will be at Northern Illinois Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of KSU Athletics)