KENT, Ohio -- The Kent State Golden Flashes may have been without three important cogs Saturday, but they found a way to post a 61-60 win over the visiting Miami RedHawks Saturday at the M.A.C center.
Miami, which wilted down the stretch for a second straight game, had rallied for an eight-point advantage (56-48) following two Geovonie McKnight free throws with 6:28 remaining. However, the RedHawks would make just two more field goals the rest of the way.
It was still a six-point Miami lead (60-54) after Eric Washington score the visitor’s final points at 2:26 on a jumper. However, Devareaux Manley converted two jumpers at the other end and added a trey following an MU turnover.
There was 1:02 left when McKnight missed a jumper. Manley got the rebound and Ortiz got loose for a dunk with 42 seconds remaining to put KSU back in front, 61-60.
That turned out to be the final score as Miami fizzled on two last chances following a pair of time outs and two Kent State defensive strips – one by Marquiez Lawrance and one by Gary Akbar.
"We end up with 13 turnovers . . . In the last four minutes, there were three or four ... that just killed us," Miami head coach John Cooper said.
Washington missed on a 35-foot desperation three with the shot clock running down and seven seconds left. Ortiz went to the line following a Miami foul and missed with four seconds left. Moore got the rebound but could not get his desperation shot to fall.
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Kent State, meanwhile, managed to break a two-game slide despite the absence of several key contributors. Jimmy Hall was recently diagnosed with mononucleosis, while starting guard Kris Brewer was unavailable due to a violation of team rules, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Yet another guard, Kellon Thomas, has been unavailable for several weeks following a facial fracture.
"We played our normal game plan as if we had everyone," said Ortiz, who scored 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. "It was just other people taking more shots."
“You look at the bench and there were more guys in street clothes than guys in uniform,” Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said. “We only had two perimeter players on the roster. And these guys were down six points with two minutes to go. To find a way to win, I couldn't be more proud. The togetherness, the way they competed. As a coach, this is the best win of the four years here just because of the circumstances."
Manley, one of two KSU players to log 39 minutes, paced the Flashes with 20 points. Ortiz had 16 points in 34 minutes, while Derek Jackson chipped in 11 points (and two steals) in 39 minutes.
Washington led the way for Miami with 17 points, including 7-of-8 at the free throw line. Geovonie McKnight was the only other RedHawk in double figures as he added 14 points to the cause. He was 6-of-11 from the field.
Miami connected on 45.1 percent of its shots overall, but it was just 1-of-9 on threes. The RedHawks converted 13-of-16 at the line and held a 33-25 rebound advantage. However, they managed just nine second chance points on 13 offensive caroms. Miami did outscore KSU in the paint, 34-26.
"It was an opportunity to get one on the road," Cooper said. "We didn't play well down the stretch of the game. It's that simple."
Kent State had a strong first half, connecting on 53.6 percent of its shots, but it dropped off to 36.4 percent in the final stanza. The latter was aided by a 1-for-11 performance from beyond the arc after going 6-of-11 from distance before intermission. In fact, four of the Flashes seven total treys came in the first seven minutes of the game.
Kent State is at rival Akron Tuesday (7 p.m. ET) in a battle between two of three MAC East leaders. Miami is also on the road Tuesday (7 p.m. ET) against Eastern Michigan.