OXFORD, Ohio -- Kent State surrendered a 15-point second half lead before scoring seven of the game’s last nine points in a 66-62 win over Miami Saturday at Millett Hall.
It was the fourth victory in five games for KSU (13-10, 5-5 MAC) following a four game skid in January. Miami (9-14, 2-8 MAC) fell for eighth time over its last nine outings.
It was a tough matchup for Miami, particularly on the boards. KSU entered play ranked No. 1 among MAC teams in rebounding margin (+8.0). The RedHawks were last (-3.3).
That disparity played out . . .
. . . early as Kent State out-rebounded the hosts 26-16 before intermission. The Flashes actually had more offensive caroms than defensive boards, 14-12. That allowed KSU to get off 37 shots, making 13 (35.1 %). Miami has a similar field goal percentage (36.0%), but got off just 25 shots, connecting on nine.
Another first period advantage for KSU was its 3-point shooting as the Flashes hit 7 of 14 (50%) from long distance. The RedHawks hit 1 of 6 trey attempts.
A pair of treys by Jalen Avery helped Kent State build an early lead 10-2 lead. It maintained at least an eight point edge throughout the period and took a first half-best 15-point lead (37-22) at 3:34 on a triple by Jaylin Walker. However, KSU could not score again, and Miami added registered four points on layups by Darius Harper and Michael Weathers.
"It was a great start to the game," said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff. "We really needed to have a good start here; it helped our confidence.”
“They are one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country, and so they just crash (the boards),” Miami head coach John Cooper said. “We were able to make a few adjustments at halftime, which I think helped us.”
The visitors continued to enjoy a double digit lead – equaling the 15-point first half bulge -- twice in just over seven minutes once play resumed.
Miami knocked it down to single digits for good at 8:12 on a steal and breakaway dunk by Abdoulaye Harouna. That made it 55-47 and marked the start of a 9-2 RedHawks run that pulled the hosts with one point (57-56) at 3:49.
Hall hit a jumper, but Jake Wright nailed a triple for Miami at the other end to forge the game’s first and only tie at 59-all. Harouna then split a pair of free throws at 1:39 to give MU its only lead.
"Jimmy made some big plays down the stretch, as he always does," said Senderoff. "We had a number of guys step up and help us get this win. But late and down one, he hit a turnaround in the lane that gave us the lead back, and that was really important."
After a Miami miss, Desmond Ridenour drove for a layup.
Another MU miss and turnover gave Kent State another possession and Walker hit one free throw to make it a 64-60 game with 23 ticks left.
Miami’s final points came on a pair of Michael Weathers free throws, which were offset by a pair of Deon Edward’s charity tosses for the final 66-62 margin.
Hall and Edwin scored 12 points apiece to lead Kent State, and Hall matched his points with a dozen rebounds. Avery knocked down 10 points.
Miami got its own double-double from junior forward Logan McLane. He scored 13 points and registered 12 rebounds. Wright scored 14 points, as did Michael Weathers, who came off the bench but played 29 minutes. The latter had been struggling with some turnover issues in recent games.
Miami’s second half comeback was aided by improvement on the boards, leaving KSU with a slight two-carom advantage on the day. The Flashes also cooled off from distance, hitting just 1 of 11 trey attempts over the final 20 minutes.
Kent State host Bowling Green Tuesday, while Miami entertains Western Michigan. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. ET.