Just when you thought you had these two teams figured out everything gets flipped upside down. The Miami RedHawks stunned the Kent State Golden Flashes 73-61 in the M.A.C. Center Tuesday night behind some impressive guard play.
Led by the three Wills again, Miami leapt out to a hot start, burying the Flashes under a 20-point deficit at the half. Will Felder led the 'Hawks with 26, adding nine rebounds to the effort. Will Sullivan had 13 and four, while going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Willie Moore, getting the start this time out, went 2-for-3 from behind the arc and added 14 and six, along with three steals.
Miami just couldn't miss in the first half. Six minutes in, and leading by 10, the RedHawks had missed just two shots. Where Miami was hot, Kent State was cold. Trailing big and failing to prevent the deep ball from falling the Flashes fell into a bad rhythm, allowing the 'Hawks to dictate pace and force KSU into hurried possessions. At the half Miami lead 45-25 and was a perfect 7-for-7 from 3-point range.
Despite being in a nearly insurmountable hole the Flashes came out of halftime firing behind the hot hands of Mark Henniger and Devareaux Manley. With Miami's shooting significantly cooled off (The 'Hawks didn't make another 3-pointer after halftime) the two helped KSU put together a 26-14 run in the first 12 minutes of the half that cut Miami's lead to as little as eight points at one point.
Henniger led all Kent State starters with 11 points on a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. He also added four blocks to his stat line, and a trio of rebounds. Manley led the team with 12 points on 3-for-8 from the field but a less-than-impressive 2-for-7 from behind the arc.
By this point though the juice had ran out for Kent State. With Derek Jackson fairing no better from 3-point land (he went 1-for-5 and finished with just five points on the day) and no real production from any starter's outside of Henniger and Kellon Thomas (who had nine points) the Flashes just couldn't build enough momentum to offset Miami's hot guard-play and Felder's dominating performance.
K.K. Simmons added 11 points to the Flashes' efforts, but was unable to make the impact off the bench that they needed.
The RedHawks entered the evening in the running to be the No. 9 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament; Kent State in line to be the No. 8 seed. But after Miami's win, and an NIU loss, the 'Hawks are now in line to be the No. 7 seed, while Kent State is in line to be the No. 9 seed.
Miami plays rival Ohio Saturday at noon. A win would lock up the No. 7 seed for the 'Hawks. A loss could result in as low as the No. 9 seed is Kent State beats Akron on Saturday at 7 p.m. and NIU beats Ball State.