YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO – The Kent State Golden Flashes and the Akron Zips both began their 2016-17 college basketball season Saturday night at the second annual Coaches vs. Cancer tournament at Youngstown State’s Beeghly Center.
When the evening ended, the two Mid-American Conference teams from Northeast Ohio ended up splitting a pair from the same region playing in the Horizon League.
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The Golden Flashes needed overtime to defeat the Vikings in the first game, 79-74. It was KSU’s ninth consecutive season opening victory and 10th in the past 11 seasons.
Junior Jimmy Hall led all scorers in the game with 19 points and 18 rebounds. He was one of four KSU players in double figures. Mitch Peterson had 17, going six-off-nine from the field. Danny Pippen had 13 and Deion Edwin, had 12 including 10 in overtime.
The Blue and Gold opened as much as a 21-point lead late in the first half and held a 34-21 advantage at halftime. In the second half, KSU owned as much as a 13-point lead on three occasions, the last being 45-32 on a layup by Hall with 14:26 remaining in regulation.
CSU then gnawed away at the deficit, finally taking its first lead since the opening minute of the contest, 62-61, at the 3:19 mark. KSU held a four-point lead in the final moments, however a free throw and then a three-pointer from the left corner by junior Jamarcus Hairston sent the game into overtime.
Kent State used a 7-0 run midway the through extra period to take the lead for good, then sealed the game hitting three free throws in the final minute.
Junior Bobby Word led CSU with 17 points. Hairston and freshman Kasheem Thomas each added 13, while sophomore Rob Edwards scored 12.
KSU will have its home opener on Wednesday night as the Delta Devils from Mississippi Valley State come to the MAC Center.
The host Penguins shot 54.3 percent from the field in the second half to pick up a 90-82 victory ending a six-game losing streak to the Zips.
In addition, it was UA’s first season opening setback since 2012 at Coastal Carolina and just its second in the last seven opening games.
Senior Isiah Johnson led five Zips in double figures with 17 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Jimmond Ivey came off the bench to add 14 and nine boards. Senior Kwan Cheatham Jr. added 13, while freshman Tavian Dunn-Martin had 12 and junior Noah Robotham provided 10 points with four boards and three assists.
The nightcap was a game of two halves. UA broke open a close opening 20 minutes by building an 11-point lead on three occasions and holding a five-point advantage at intermission.
YSU took a 47-45 lead at the 16:39 mark in the second half and was never headed, building as much as a 10-point lead on three occasion. The last was at 76-66 with 6:04 remaining.
UA closed the gap to a single digit, 78-77, on a three from the right arc by Robotham with 2:46 remaining. But the Penguins got an alley-oop slam dunk to kick start a quick 6-0 run, pushing the lead back to seven before winning by eight.
Junior Cameron Morse led all scorers in the contest with 27 points. Senior Matt Donlan added 20 with all six of his field goals coming from beyond the three-point arc. Junior Francisco Santiago had 15, along with seven assists.
The Zips are back in action Thursday night as they open the home portion of their schedule at Rhodes Arena against the Eagles from American University.