"Beane was great for them, and we were anything but great from the foul line," said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff, whose Golden Flashes fell to 1-1. "We left a lot on the table when you look at 20 missed free throws. And even with that, our defense got stops down the stretch and gave us a chance."
Thomas led Kent State with 17 points, while Jimmy Hall added 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. Khaliq Spicer contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. None of those numbers were enough to offset KSU's 16-for-36 struggle from the foul line. The Salukis, meanwhile, were a more than respectable 23-for-30 on free throws, taking advantage of a game that saw both teams combine for 54 fouls.
"You miss 20 free throws in a game that you lose by three points. That's frustrating," said Senderoff. "We had chance after chance to cut into the Southern Illinois lead and make it a one or two possession game in the final 10 minutes. We kept going to the line, but we never managed to do better than splitting a pair."
The Flashes trailed by 11 points on three different occasions during the second half, but they kept battling back. Bene seemed to have an answer for the Salukis every time KSU pulled close.
Beane tied a career-high with 32 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and 12-for-13 from the foul line.
Mike Rodriguez and Tyler Smithpeters added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Salukis (3-0).
Kent State found brief lifts from players like freshman Jaylin Walker, who came off of the bench in the first half and hit two three pointers. Walker's outside shooting helped to break the ice for a Kent State offense that made just one of its first 10 shots from the field. Even with 30-percent field goal shooting in the first 20 minutes (9-for-30), the Flashes kept the game close, trailing 34-29 at the break.
The Flashes never led in the game, but one of Walker's threes tied the game at 26-26 late in the first half.
Galal Cancer scored six points, but added a team-high eight rebounds as Kent State won the rebounding battle 43-32. Despite 20 offensive rebounds, the Flashes managed just 10 second-chance points.
Kent State also struggled to a 10-to-14 assist-to-turnover ratio. Southern Illinois took advantage of those miscues by outscoring the Flashes 15-5 off of turnovers.
(Courtesy of KSU Athletics)