Williamson clutch free throws closes game for Flashes in win at Vanderbilt

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Junior guard Jaylin Walker chases a loose ball during Kent State’s 78-68 win over Akron on Feb. 17, 2018. Walker scored a season-high 27 points in the win.

Ian Kreider

Kent State junior guard C.J. Williamson stepped to the line as Kent State (4-1) led Vanderbilt (4-1) 77-75 with 0.5 seconds left.

Williamson threw the ball off the backboard before bouncing it in front of the rim, the horn sounding with Kent State celebrating the win. This is the Flashes third straight season with a win against a “Power 5” team (with wins over Texas in 2017 and Oregon State in 2018).

The Flashes pulled off the victory despite being out-rebounded 44-24, a season-low for a Kent State. The Flashes came into the matchup averaging 41 rebounds per game. This was in part to starting only one forward: junior Philip Whittington.

Whittington did not leave his stamp on this game like the previous two, finishing scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting. He did impact the defensive end of the floor with two of the Flashes’ five blocks.

Williamson and junior guard Antonio Williams — the other newcomer — combined for 26 points on 7-for-15 shooting from the field and 9-for-10 from the line. They also were a large part of Kent State’s suffocating defense. They combined for six of the Flashes’ 13 steals.

The Flashes forced 15 turnovers, while shooting 12-for-24 on threes. They also limited the Commodores to 5-for-18 from deep.

Junior guard Jaylin Walker added 22 points on 8-for-18 shooting off the bench in his return. He nailed a three from the wing with 1:33 left to extend the Flashes’ lead to 68-63.

Kent State finished with 18 assists, while only turning the ball over eight times. They knocked down 15-of-20 free throws.

Senior guard Jaylen Avery played his second straight turnover-free game of the season. He added 18 points on 6-for-13 shooting in 39 minutes. He averages a team-high 33.5 minutes per game.

The Flashes will look to continue their hot start Wednesday at 5 p.m. as they take on Detroit Mercer (2-3) inside Calihan Hall.

Ian Kreider is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]