KENT, OHIO –Kent State ended the non-conference portion of its home schedule Sunday afternoon by rallying from a 17-point deficit halfway through the second half, only to fall to the Wright State Raiders, 68-63, at the MAC Center.
Kent State (8-4) suffered its first loss at home this season, as well as its first loss since a 73-70 loss at Northeastern back on November 27.
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Sophomore Jaylin Walker led four KSU players in double figures with 17 points and four rebounds. Junior transfer Desmond Ridenour came off the bench to add 15 with five boards. Senior Deon Edwin had 12, while senior Jimmy Hall had 11 and 11 caroms.
Senior Mark Alstork led all scorers in the game with 25 points, along with five rebounds and four assists. Senior Steven Davis added 14 with four boards and a blocked shot.
The visitors from the Horizon League got off to a flying start, opening an11-4 lead just over three minutes into the contest.
Alstork, a transfer from Ball State, was the main cog to the start as he connected on a trio of shots from beyond the arc en-route to scoring 18 points in the opening stanza, when he was 7-of-10 from the field.
The Flashes played catch-up until the acquired their first and only lead of the game, 24-23, on a put-back basket by Hall at the 5:49 mark.
Alstork got the lead right back on the next possession with a layup. From there, WSU built as much as a seven-point lead, 34-27, after senior Grant Benzinger hit a three from the left corner. WSU went into halftime with a four-point advantage 36-32.
KSU was totally ice cold at the start of the second period, missing its first eight shots from the floor and 11 of the first 12.
Wright State seized on the ineffectiveness, opening as much as a 17-point lead, their largest of the game, on two occasions. The last was 58-41 when Alstork connected on a short jumper in the lane.
The Raider lead remained in double figures for a majority of the second half until KSU made a final push.
Trailing 65-51 with 6:57 remaining, the Flashes went on a 19-4 run. That included a stretch of 12 unanswered points. Kent State pulled within two, 65-63, when Jaylin Walker scored on a conventional three-point play with 2:41 remaining.
That, however, would be as close as KSU could get, although it had a chance to tie or even go ahead in the closing moments with Jaylin Walker and Hall missing good chances at the hoop.
WSU sealed the game by hitting three of four free throws in the final seconds for the Raiders first ever win over the Flashes in Kent.
The Flashes deep freeze early in the second half contributed to a poor shooting performance. Kent State hit 8-of-32 from the floor and just 34.4 percent for the game (22-of-64), going just 6-of-26 from beyond the arc.
The Raiders barely won the rebound battle, 37-36, and prevailed despite turning the ball over 18 times and only going to the free throw line eight times. WSU went to the charity stripe four times in the final seconds and nailed three of them to secure victory.
Kent State has two road games left on the non-conference schedule. The first is Wednesday night at Oregon State against the Beavers from the PAC-12. Then it’s on to Texas to face the Big 12 Longhorns.
KSU opens MAC play on January 3rd when the Ball State Cardinals come to Kent.