Some teams that get into the CBI or CIT don't really take it seriously. Down five at halftime and exactly 1,500 miles away from home, Kent State could have thrown in the towel and ended their season after playing 33 games so far this season.
Jimmy Hall wouldn't let that happen.
Hall scored 17 points and collected nine rebounds in just the second half, propelling Kent State to a 69-65 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Flashes move on to the quarterfinals of the CIT to take on a yet to be named opponent.
It looked like it may be a struggle for the Flashes as they got down 10-2 pretty quickly to start out the game. The deficit grew even larger as the Islanders went on a 13-7 run, growing their lead to 14 at 23-9. A 10-1 Kent State run got the Flashes back within five, and that's where they were heading in to the locker room at halftime.
Kent State scored the first seven points of the second half and found themselves leading 36-34. The next couple of minutes were back and forth, with both teams trading baskets and taking back small leads. The Islanders opened the game up a little with a 7-1 run in the mid-second half, giving them a 57-50 lead with just seven minutes left on the clock.
The Flashes were able to get the lead down to four at 65-61 with 2:04 remaining. Things looked bleak, but Kent State caught fire. Derek Jackson was fouled and split the free throws. Devareaux Manley came up with a steal on the next possession, and Jackson fed Hall who got the lay-up and the foul to tie the game at 65. After the Islanders came up short on their next possession, it was Hall again, nailing a lay-in to give Kent State the lead with 17 seconds on the clock.
Chris Ortiz fouled Rashawn Thomas on the next possession, but Thomas missed both free throws that would have tied the game. Manley grabbed the rebound off of the second miss and was fouled, making both of his free throws to ice the victory.
The Islanders' second half struggles ultimately did them in, as they shot just 8-23 (35 percent) in the latter half. Meanwhile Kent State flourished, hitting 14-25 shots from the field, good for 56 percent. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was only 1-4 from beyond the arc in the second half, while the Flashes were 4-12. In a five point game, those deep threes were huge in getting Kent State back into the game.
Bryce Douvier led the now 20-14 Islanders with 16 points and six rebounds, while senior point guard John Jordan followed with 14 points and six assists. Ehab Amin scored 11 points off of the bench, with seven coming in the secon half.
Hall finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds for the game. Manley ended up with 17 points, none more important than those last two free throws. Jackson also wound up in double figures, posting 12 points and six assists.
The Flashes are moving on, and have a great chance to win this whole thing. At home or on the road, Kent State can beat anyone left in the tournament. They aren't ready for their season to be over yet.