"We obviously could have played better, but we found a way to win," said head coach Rob Senderoff. "It's always difficult to win games on the road and it was difficult going back on the road after Christmas and playing two tough teams out in Las Vegas last week."
The Golden Flashes' defense came up with . . .
Thomas finished with 14 points to lead the Golden Flashes, who improved to 8-4 on the season heading into their final non-conference game against Oberlin on Saturday at the M.A.C. Center.
"Kellon made some clutch shots for us down the stretch and our defense really stepped up when we needed it late and came up with two big stops in the final minute," said Senderoff.
"We're going against a lot of zone this year and teams are collapsing on our guys. We wanted to try to get the ball to Jimmy in the middle of the zone. We moved the ball around a little bit, and Kellon was able to find a lane and make a big shot for us."
The Aggies scored 22 points off of KSU's 15 turnovers. Twelve of those turnovers came after halftime, leading to 18 NC A&T points. Miscues on offense were a big reason KSU watched a 10 point lead after two Jimmy Hall free throws with 16:30 to play turn into a 1-point deficit with 1:21 remaining following two foul shots by Abdullah.
Ede Egharevba airballed a three-point bid for a two-possession North Carolina A&T lead with 31 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Thomas' late-game heroics.
Xavier Pollard (11 points) and Jimmy Hall (10 points) joined Thomas with double-digit points. Deon Edwin led KSU with nine rebounds while scoring six points in his first start for the Flashes. Senderoff inserted Edwin, Pollard and Chris Ortiz (6 points, 4 rebounds) into the starting lineup with the hope of finding a spark following back-to-back losses to SMU and Penn State last week in Las Vegas.
North Carolina A&T was led by 15 points (5-9) from Egharevba, who did not see any action in a first half that ended with Kent State leading 32-28.
Defense played a big part in KSU building its first-half lead. The Flashes forced seven turnovers and held NC A&T to 1-of-5 shooting from three-point range in the first 20 minutes. Egharevba alone was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc after halftime.
The Aggies added 14 points from Joshea Singleton, who did not see the floor in the second half, and 11 points from Abdullah.
After falling behind 6-2 in the opening minutes, Kent State battled back to take its first lead with a 7-0 run. The Flashes didn't trail again until Abdullah's free throws with 1:21 to play.
Despite shooting just 22.7 percent from three-point range, the Flashes used threes by Thomas and Galal Cancer to answer a pair of second-half runs that saw the Aggies trim KSU leads to just a point.
Kent State won the rebounding battle 35-24. Despite out-rebounding North Carolina A&T 13-7 on the offensive glass, the Flashes were outscored 6-4 in second-chance points. The Flashes outscored the Aggies in the paint 26-22.
(Courtesy of KSU Athletics)