Kent State narrowly escapes Buffalo comeback


The Kent State men’s basketball team went into halftime up 21 points against the University of Buffalo, but the Bulls mounted a comeback to open the contest back up.

In a game that was back and forth late, the Flashes were able to hold on and secure an 84-81 victory.

A 12-0 run by Buffalo in the beginning of the second half started the Bulls’ comeback, but senior guard Mike Nuga led the Flashes down the stretch. Junior guard Malique Jacobs had a late steal and connected with Senior Guard Mike Nuga on a fastbreak to tie the game at 81. 

“Malique has been a really good defender for us all year,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “He had three steals and six assists, and I think that’s where he’s at his best when he’s trying to score.”

Jacobs also added nine points and seven rebounds.

Nuga was the Flashes’ leading scorer, finishing the game with 23 points, three assists and three steals in a team-high 36 minutes.

With 17:08 left in the game senior forward Danny Pippen checked out the game after committing his fourth personal foul of the game.

Pippen, Kent’s leading scorer this season, didn’t have his ususal offensive production even before he got in foul trouble, finishing with six points and seven rebounds.

“It’s not often that you blow a 21 point lead,” Senderoff said. “Incredible resolve by [my team]. To go down six with two minutes to go and fight back to win the game is a great response by our players.”

With 2:17 to play the score was 81-75 Buffalo after Jeenathan Williams hit a three to extend the Bulls lead. 

Then with 1:39 left senior forward Justyn Hamilton hit an outside jumper to begin a 6-0 scoring run that ultimately led the Flashes to victory. Hamilton finished with 16 points.

With 14 seconds and the score still tied, Nuga drew a foul and went to the line. His first shot missed, but after a short timeout he drained the second. Buffalo’s Williams forced a three that missed, and Nuga grabbed the rebound and the Flashes hung on to win their fourth straight. 

The Flashes had lost five of their last six to the Buffalo, and had not beaten the Bulls in the M.A.C. Center since 2018.

Kent State is now on a four game win streak, improving its record to 7-3 (4-2 Mid-American Conference).

The Flashes will have three days before they head to Toledo to take on the Rockets.  

This is Kent’s first MAC rematch of this season, as Kent looks to avenge an 84-82 loss on Jan. 5. The Rockets are coming off an 89-72 win last night at Central Michigan.

Dante is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].