KENT, OHIO – The Kent State Golden Flashes ended a grueling stretch of four games in seven days with an 84-77 win over the Canisius Golden Griffins Saturday night in the second game of the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at the MAC Center. In the process, Kent State (7-2) picked up its fourth consecutive win and remained undefeated at home at 4-0. Both teams played on Friday (KSU defeating Louisiana-Monroe at home, while Canisius lost at Penn State).
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Five KSU players scored in double figures, led by fifth-year senior Kellon Thomas who had 17 points and four assists. Junior Jimmy Hall added 15 with three assists, a steal and two blocked shots. Sophomore Raasean Davis had a career high 11 with four rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, while seniors Xavier Pollard and Chris Ortiz had 10 points each, with Ortiz pulling down 11 boards.
Canisius (3-6), out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, absorbed ts third consecutive defeat and fifth in the last six games. The Golden Griffins were led by sophomore Jermaine Crumpton who led all scorere in the game with 25 points going 11-of-15 from the field with four rebounds, three assists and a steal.
The Flashes built as much as a nine-point lead in the opening half, only to see the Griffins use a 16-6 run to take their first lead of the game, 27-26, at the 5:40 mark on two free throws by Malcolm McMillan, Canisius’ leading scorer coming into the game was held to just six points.
The game was tied four times before intermission, with KSU taking the lead for good, 38-36, on a jumper by Pollard. Kent State took a 40-36 advantage to the locker room.
At the start of the second half, the Flashes built as much as an eight point lead. However every time, they appeared ready to put the game away, the Griffins came fighting back with their most effective weapon -- the three point shot. On the evening, they made 11-of-29 shots from beyond the arc.
With KSU holding a 58-48 lead at the 11:02 mark on a layup by Hall, the Griffins gnawed away at the lead, pulling to within a pair on two occasions. The last was 68-66 at the 3:55 mark when Kassius Robertson made one of two free throws. The Flashes then steadied the ship, using free throws down the stretch to win by seven.
Three stats played in the Flashes favor on the evening. First, they shot 54.2 percent (32-of-59) from the field. Second, they held a decisive rebounding edge 45-29. Third, they scored 48 points in the paint compared to 20 for the Griffins.
KSU now takes a break for finals, returning to action December 22 as the Flashes complete the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic with a game at the Orleans Arena against nationally-ranked Southern Methodist. KSU will then will face either Colorado or Penn State in the fourth and final game.