Flashes overcome poor shooting performance to down Wofford

Nick Buzzelli

Initially, it seemed as if the ending of Kent State’s final game in the Gulf Coast Showcase would mirror that of its previous two contests. Against the University of South Dakota and George Mason University, the Flashes held the lead with under one minute remaining. But in each of those games, they were unable to secure the win.

And after Wofford College’s Eric Garcia hit an off-balance three-pointer with 42 seconds left, the storyline was shaping to be the same.

But it wasn’t, thanks to Flashes’ sophomore Jalen Avery’s clutch free throws.

Avery, who missed a crucial one-and-one opportunity against George Mason, drained both shots from the charity stripe with 27 seconds left. The Flashes (4-2) went on to knock off Wofford (1-4), 66-59, Wednesday morning in Estero, Florida, and snap a two-game losing streak.

“Tough, hard fought win and we needed it too,” head coach Rob Senderoff said in a press release. “I think we needed it the way we got it too because it wasn’t a 78-76 win … They scored 59 points and I think we needed that to get our mentality back to where it needs to be.”

Despite shooting a dismal 25 percent from the floor in the first half, Kent State went into the locker room up two — courtesy of sophomore Jaylin Walker’s fast break dunk.

Wofford regained the lead four minutes into the second half, but two foul shots brought by sophomore Adonis De La Rosa at the midway point of the second half put Kent State up for good.

The Flashes were able to combat Wofford’s late-game surge by shooting 52.4 percent in the final frame and outrebounding the Terriers, 44-34.

“(Wofford) hit some tough ones,” Senderoff said. “I’m more proud of the guys for fighting through all of that, and not allowing missing shots to get them frustrated and just continue to compete the way we compete.”

Walker led all scorers with 15 points and recorded four rebounds and three steals, while redshirt senior Jimmy Hall chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes of play.

Kent State continues its four-game road trip Sunday against Northeastern University. The game is one Senderoff pointed to during the program’s media day, since it can ultimately help prepare his team for Mid-American Conference play, which begins in January.

“That’s going to be a really tough game,” he said. “It’ll be just like this Wofford game and just like the George Mason game. They are a very similar team to us and we are looking forward to getting out there and taking another one.”

Nick Buzzelli is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].