Hall, Edwin lead Flashes past Cleveland State in season opener

Nick Buzzelli

With three minutes remaining in the season-opening game in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, senior Jimmy Hall hit a short, turnaround jump shot in the paint to put the Kent State men’s basketball team up by one.

Hall’s bucket came less than 15 seconds after a Bobby Word three-pointer gave Cleveland State University its first lead since the game’s opening minute.

Despite the fact that Hall and the Flashes had dominated their regional foe through the first 36 minutes of play, the Vikings mounted a comeback that was capped by a Jamarcus Hairston three-pointer — which knotted the score at 66 and sent the game into overtime.

But while Hall led Kent State in regulation, fellow senior Deon Edwin took charge in overtime, hitting a contested shot from beyond the arc and driving the lane for an easy layup. Edwin knocked down a key free throw with 4.4 seconds left in the extra frame to give the Flashes a 79-74 victory Saturday night at Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center.

“It’s a great win,” head coach Rob Senderoff told Kent State athletics after the game. “And I know you can look at the stat sheet and say we were up big and let them back in the game … But this is a team that has all of these guys that have never played.”

“For us to find a way to get a win, especially after giving away a 20-point lead, I couldn’t be happier with how the guys responded.”

Kent State began the game on a 14-3 run, and cruised to a 34-21 halftime lead thanks, in part, to freshman Mitch Peterson’s 12 points and four boards in the first 20 minutes of play.

In the second half, Cleveland State slowly began chipping away at the lead —courtesy of its three-point shooting — and forced overtime. But it was not enough.

Peterson and freshman Danny Pippen, each playing their first collegiate game, chipped in 17 and 13 points, respectively, while Edwin added 12 in a 5-12 shooting performance from the floor. Hall finished with 19 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.

“(Hall) was as good as he’s ever played in my opinion,” Senderoff said. “I’m really happy for him because he was so incredibly unselfish throughout the course of the game … Even in overtime, one of Deon’s buckets was on an assist by him when he was doubled … Last year he shoots that regardless. This year he makes the winning play. I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Flashes open their home slate at the M.A.C. Center by hosting Mississippi Valley State University Wednesday and Division III opponent Hiram College Friday before traveling to Estero, Florida, to participate in the Gulf Coast Showcase against the University of South Dakota and two other teams, which have yet to be announced.

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