Second half surge leads Flashes

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Kent State shot 60 percent in the second half and overcame a 9-0 deficit in the opening minutes to earn a 71-64 win at UNC Greensboro tonight in Fleming Gym. The win was the third straight for the Golden Flashes who improved to 6-2 on the year. The Spartans fell to 3-2 with the loss.
Senior Mike Scott (Indianapolis, Ind. / Northwest) led four players in double figures with 15 points, while classmate Haminn Quaintance (Sarasota, Fla. / Jacksonville University) added 13 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals for his first double-double of the season. Mikko Kovivisto led the Spartans out of the gate hitting back-to-back threes as UNCG had leads of 9-0 and 11-2 in the opening minutes of the game. Kent State would fight back using a 10-3 run behind five points from junior Julian Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio / Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy) who would later bring the Golden Flashes to within one (19-18) with a layin at the nine minute mark. Sullinger scored nine first half points on his way to a season high 11 points and seven rebounds.
"Julian really stepped up, said Head Coach Jim Christian, "He's our most physical guy and he kept us in the game in the first five minutes."
With wins in 10 of their last 11 at home, the Spartans remained tough and another three from Kovivisto helped push the led back to eight at 26-18. The deficit was still at eight (33-25) with three minutes to play in the half when the Golden Flashes used a 17-1 run over the next six minutes to secure the lead for good. Quaintance scored seven points during the stretch, including a three-point play with two seconds to go before half time that pulled KSU within one (34-33). Scott then scored on the first possession of the second half to put the Golden Flashes on top.
"In the first half we just did a poor job of executing, but in the second half we went back to doing what we normally do and get to them when they catch the ball on the perimeter," said Christian. "Us getting there to contest threes in the second half was a big key for us."
The Kent State defensive pressure continued as the margin grew to as many as 13 following a jumper by Scott, who finished with 13 second half points, at 10:29.
The Spartans would remain at bay until one final push in the final three minutes when they whittled the deficit down to three (65-62) with 1:55 remaining.
Scott answered again with a lay-up and after another UNCG basket converted two straight free throws pushing the lead back to five with only 57 second left. Kent State would make another defensive stop before more free throws accounted for the final margin.
The Spartans had won 30 of their last 32 non-league games at Fleming, but were held to just 31.0 percent (9-29) shooting in the second half, including 2-14 from three after hitting 7-14 from downtown to start the game. SoCon Player of the Year Candidate Kyle Hines had 14 points and nine rebounds while Koivisto hit six threes on his way to a game high 22 points. Kent State shot over 50 percent for a second consecutive game ending the night at 54.9 percent shooting while outrebounding UNCG 38-35. It was also the second straight game the Golden Flashes had four players reach double figures with sophomore Rodriquez Sherman (Indianapolis, Ind. / Ben Davis) joining Scott, Quaintance and Sullinger with 14 points.
Kent State is back in action on Wednesday, December 5 at local rival Youngstown State.