KENT, Ohio – Isaac Thornton’s 3-pointer as time expired glanced off the rim to allow Division I Kent State to survive Fairmont State’s upset bid, 77-75, last Sunday night at the MAC Center.
The Division II Falcons trailed by as many as 17 in the second half but put on a late surge down the stretch for a chance to win the game.
Fairmont State (5-3) was led by Isaiah Hill with 19 points despite battling foul trouble and eventually fouling out of the game. Brendan Cooper had 15 points and team-high eight rebounds and Stevie Browning, a Logan High School graduate, added 15 for the Falcons. Malik Stith and Thornton each finished the game with 10.
Kent State (8-5) was led by Chris Evans with 27 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Evans nailed six 3-pointers in the game for the Golden Flashes. Kris Brewer (11) and Randal Holt (10) also reached double figures for KSU. Brewer led Kent State with six assists. Kent State’s bench outscored the FSU bench, 46-6, in the victory.
Kent State hit 11-of-27 from 3-point range compared to 7-of-18 for the Falcons. KSU out-rebounded Fairmont State 39-29, but the Falcon pressure late in the second half led to 17 Kent State turnovers.
Fairmont State started fast and led 18-16 with under ten minutes to play in the first half, but the Flashes went on a 12-2 run keyed by a trio of 3-pointers from Evans to give Kent State an eight point lead with 7:29 left in the half. KSU picked up its largest lead of the half, 37-26, with 1:11 to go, but Browning would score on two straight possessions to cut the Kent State lead to 37-31 at the half. Browning led all FSU scorers with nine points in the opening half.
Holt and Brewer hit two quick 3-points to stretch the Kent State lead to start the second half, and would go on to stretch its lead to 68-52 with 8:51 to go. The Falcons would not go away quietly going on a 13-2 run to cut the Kent State lead to just five points at 70-65 with 6:23 to play in the game. Hill hit a pair of 3s to key the stretch for the Falcons.
A Thornton free throw made it 76-73, but Kent State missed a pair of free throws on its next possession and Stith went coast-to-coast for the score to make it 76-75 with just 37 seconds left in the game.
Evans would connect on 1-of-2 from the line to give Kent State a 77-75 lead with 25 seconds to play. After a Fairmont State timeout, Stith held the ball at the top of the key, drove it and kicked it to Thornton whose three wouldn’t go as time expired to seal the victory for KSU.
Browning added six rebounds and a blocked shot and was 5-for-13 from the floor, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range.