Kent State falls in OT to the University of Virginia

Kent State men’s basketball team nearly upset No. 15 ranked University of Virginia on Friday at John Paul Jones Arena.

The Cavaliers defeated the Flashes 71-64 in overtime after senior Danny Pippen’s three-point buzzer beater at the end of regulation.

In a their first meeting against the Cavaliers in 46 years, the Flashes led 7-2 early.

But Kent State was unable to withstand the paint presence of UVA. For Virginia, Jay Huff and Sam Hauser dominated inside, leading the way for the Cavaliers offense. They finished the game with 18 points each.

The Flashes were unable to capitalize on good looks at the basket early, shooting just 36 percent from the floor in the first half. 

Kent opened up the second half with much more life offensively.

Senior guard Mike Nuga heated up in the second half for the Flashes, knocking down four three-pointers in the game, tallying 20 points total. Nuga’s scoring was instrumental in the effort for the Flashes, especially down the stretch, and his six rebounds led Kent in that category as well.

Late in the second half, sophomore guard Giovanni Santiago hit a fadeaway, three-point bank shot to give the Flashes a two-point lead. After a quick forced turnover, Nuga’s fast break layup gave the Flashes a four-point lead with under four minutes remaining.

In a nearly empty gym, with no fans, it had appeared if the Flashes had stolen the momentum away from the Cavaliers. However, the Flashes defense could not stay out of foul trouble, with Santiago, senior guard Malique Jacobs, senior Justyn Hamilton and Pippen fouling out by the end of overtime.

With five seconds remaining in regulation, Nuga missed a corner three, Hamilton secured an offensive rebound and found Pippen for a wide open three-point shot as regulation expired.

To open the overtime period, Hauser scored five unanswered points for the Cavaliers, and that was all they needed to sneak past the Flashes. Pippen’s buzzerbeater secured overtime for the Flashes, but he was scoreless in overtime, finishing with 13 points, shooting just 31 percent from the field.

This was the first time these two teams played each other in 46 years, with Kent nearly knocking off No. 15 Virginia.

Up next, the 1-1 Flashes non-conference schedule continues in Detroit with a Tuesday matchup against Detroit Mercy.

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

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