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Walker, Kent State push past the RedHawks in final minute

Melissa Moon - The Eastern Echo
Melissa Moon - The Eastern Echo

Jaylin Walker poses problems.

The Kent State senior guard does for every opposing team. As the Mid-American Conference's scoring average leader, Walker puts up points in bunches.

And that's exactly what he did against the Miami RedHawks (12-11, 4-6 MAC) at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center on Tuesday night.

He dropped 27 points and, in the game's final 30 seconds, hit four consecutive free throws to give the Golden Flashes the lead and then clinch their 70-67 victory.

In the matchup that featured 12 ties and 18 lead changes, the score never got out of hand. Once a 3-pointer by Miami sophomore guard Nike Sibande cut Kent State's advantage to 49-47, neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.

The Golden Flashes (17-5, 6-3 MAC) scored the first four points of the first half, but the RedHawks hung around and took a 16-15 lead on a midrange jumper from sophomore guard Jalen Adaway.

Then, Kent State went on an 11-3 run and took a 37-28 lead into halftime.

Walker scored 14 in the half, just two short of the total amount of combined points recorded in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Over the first six minutes of the second half, Miami chipped away at its deficit and jumped ahead for the first time in the period on an and-one layup by senior guard Darrian Ringo. After Ringo converted the free throw, his team led 44-42.

The Golden Flashes immediately responded with a 7-0 run that put them up 49-44. Sibande's 3-pointer ended the stretch and began the contested final minutes.

At the 9:30 mark, a Sibande steal set up freshman guard Mekhi Lairy for a layup in transition, giving the RedHawks a 53-51 advantage.

The teams traded leads for the next seven minutes, before Miami pushed ahead for the final time with two minutes to go. Two Ringo free throws made it 65-64.

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That was the last time the RedHawks scored.

Kent State hit six straight free throws, including the final four from Walker, to steal a last-second win.

Sibande missed a prayer of a 3-pointer as time expired.

Both teams shot an identical 41.5 percent from the field, but the Golden Flashes won the rebounding battle 32-30.

Sibande recorded 19 points and eight rebounds -- both team highs.

Besides Walker's game-high 27, senior forward Akiean Frederick was Kent State's second-highest scorer with 12 points. Walker's nine rebounds were also the most on his team.

After wrapping up a two-game road trip, Miami returns to Millett Hall on Saturday to take on Ohio in the Battle of the Bricks. Miami Athletics dubbed it "Wayne Embry Day" to celebrate the accomplishments of basketball legend Wayne Embry. The matchup will tip off at 2 p.m. and will air on ESPN+.