KENT, OHIO – Senior Jaylin Walker made four free throws in the final 22 seconds, including a pair with 3.3 seconds remaining to lift the Kent State Golden Flashes to a 70-67 victory over the Miami redhawks Tuesday night at the MAC Center
With the victory, Kent State (17-5, 6-3 MAC) picked up its fourth win in the last five games, improved to 11-3 at home (4-2 in MAC play), and collected its fourth straight home win against MU.
“It was a great, great win for us.” KSU head coach Rob Senderoff said. “Just unbelievable. A lot of guys made big plays for us to win.”
Walker led all scorers in the contest with his 22 points, adding nine rebounds. Fellow senior, Akiean Frederick had 12 coming off the bench, with five rebounds. Junior Antonio Williams added 11 with four boards two assists and two steals.
It was a tight game that saw 12 ties and 18 lead changes. The contest was decided in the final moments.
Visiting Miami led 67-66 with 1:14 remaining. After a time out, there were 12 seconds remaining on the 30-second clock. When sophomore Nike Sibande, dribbled toward the basket, he was cut off by Frederick. When Sibande dribbled back out, the shot clocked expired.
The 30-second violation was one of the keys to the game. It gave the ball to KSU and when Walker drove to the basket, he was fouled by Jalen Adaway. Walker made both free throws to put the Flashes ahead to stay 68-67.
With 5.3 seconds remaining, Sibande again drove to rhe basket however his shot failed to touch the iron. Walker grabbed the rebound and again was fouled by Adaway with 3.3 seconds remaining. He converted both free throws for the final points of the game as the Flashes were a perfect six-of-six from the line in the final 74 seconds.
Miami still had a slim chance to tie and send the game into overtime. Sophomore Delonte Brown threw a long baseball like pass over mid court to Sibande, who took a shot with three KSU players around him. His shot was wide to the left as the clock went to triple zeroes
With the loss, Miami (12-11, 4-6 MAC) dropped its second in the last five games and ended a two-game road winning streak. Nike Sibande led the Hawks with 19 points, eight rebounds and two stals. Freshman Mekhi Lairy had 12 points and junior Bam Bowman contributed 10 with seven boards.
The first half saw three ties and eight lead changes. KSU used a 9-0 run to take control 24-15 at the 6:24 mark on a short jumper by Walker. He scored 14 in the opening half, going four of eight from the field with five rebounds and hit all four of his foul shots.
KSU held that nine-point advantage into halftime 37-28.
At the start of the second period, the Hawks scored 10 of the first 11 points to tie the score 38-38 when Bowman hit his second three-pointer during the run.
From that point on, the game was close. In the second half alone, there were nine lead changes and nine ties. Neither team had more than a three-point lead the remainder of the game.
Leading the second half charge for MU was Sibande, who had 12 points and five rebounds in the period. Bowman added eight, including the pair of threes during the run to start the final period.
Walker had 13 in the second half for KSU. It marked the 17th consecutive game he has scored in double digits.
“(These games) are not always easy and not always pretty, but this team, showed fight and toughness throughout the course of the game and especially in the final few minutes.” Senderoff said.
Both teams shot 41.5 percent from the field, hitting 22-of-53. KSU was 9-of-24 from three-point range, while MU was 5-15 from beyond the arc.
Two key stats in the game favored the Flashes. They held a 32-30 rebounding edge and also went 21-of-23 from the free throw line. KSU was 14-of-16 from the line in the second half. The remainder of the statistics were just about even.
Kent State at Akron -- 9 p.m. ET
Western Michigan at Ball State -- 2 p.m. ET
Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan -- 2 p.m. ET
Ohio at Miami -- 2 p.m. ET
Central Michigan at Buffalo -- 3:30 p.m. ET
Toledo at Bowling Green -- 6 p.m. ET