KENT, Ohio – Devareaux Manley scored 19 points and Khaliq Spicer posted a double-double as Kent State held off Ball State for a 58-53 victory on Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center.
The win, combined with a series of wild finishes in the Mid-American Conference, creates a four-way tie for first place in the league's overall standings. Joining East Division leaders Kent State (18-8, 9-4) and Bowling Green on the precarious perch are West leaders Toledo and Central Michigan.
Playing without leading scorer and rebounder Jimmy Hall for the fifth consecutive game, the Golden Flashes continued to win with defense and lifts from different combinations of players.
"Our defense was very good again tonight," said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff. "We held them to 35 percent shooting. Khaliq was very active on the offensive glass. This was one of his best games. Chris Ortiz had another good game with 13 points. And Gary Akbar gave us a big lift off the bench after we got off to a slow start."
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Spicer finished with 10 points to go with his second consecutive 12-rebound game.
Manley's 19 points arrived behind 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range. The senior guard now has 206 career threes and is four away from moving into a tie with Trevor Huffman (1998-2002) for second place on Kent State's all-time list.
The Flashes took a 32-25 lead into halftime and had a difficult time shaking Ball State until late in the second half. A transition three by Manley with 3:08 to play helped the Flashes end a run that saw the Cardinals trim a 10-point Kent State lead to just four points.
After struggling with free throws for much of the year, Kent State closed out the game from the foul line in the closing minutes. Led by Ortiz (7-for-8) and Spicer (4-for-6), the Flashes were 15-for-21 from the foul line for the night.
Kent State also won the rebounding battle by a slim 34-32 margin.
Ball State was led by Bo Calhoun's 18-point, 8-rebound night. Calhoun hit a late three to give the Cardinals some hope, trailing by just four points with 52 seconds to play.
Franko House and Jeremiah Davis added 10 points for the Cardinals, who lost their 11th straight game to fall to 7-17 overall and 2-11 in MAC play.
The Golden Flashes go on the road for games at Ohio University on Saturday (2 p.m. ET) and Miami on Feb. 24 before returning home to face Buffalo on Feb. 28. Ball State is at Central Michigan Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of KSU Athletics/MRO Edit)