Kent State tops Ohio University, 70-69 behind Kevin Zabo

KENT, Ohio — Kent State slipped past Ohio University, 70-69, despite missing a rash of free throws late that kept the Bobcats close to getting a rare MAC road win Friday night in the M.A.C. Center.

“It was one of those nights,” said Kent guard Kevin Zabo. “But we got lucky and got the stop at the end.”

Zabo scored 24 points for Kent State, but missed 5-of-9 free throws himself as the Golden Flashes (8-9, 2-2) went 12-of-23 from the line, including 3-of-11 in the second half. But Zabo’s last miss with 3.1 seconds to play was intentional, with the rebound going to Kent, which dribbled out the final seconds for the victory over the Bobcats (8-8, 1-3).

Both teams are traditional strong MAC basketball programs suffering unexpected down seasons. Kent entered the game losing three of its last four. The Bobcats entered losers in two of their last three.

Kent earned a 40-31 halftime lead even as the inside tandem of Adonis De La Rosa and Danny Pippen sat the bulk of the first 20 minutes with two fouls each. But the Flashes got a boost off the bench as freshman BJ Duling is starting to bring some defensive tenacity to offset some of his miscues.

Junior guard Jaylin Walker came of the bench to score 15 points.

The foul trouble continued for Kent in the second half as De La Rosa and Pippen had their third fouls less than two minutes into the final 20 minutes.

Kent was still able to build a 12-point lead, before hot shooting by Ohio allowed them to take a 69-68 lead. Then De La Rosa (eight points) hit a hook in the lane in the final minute for the final margin of victory.

Kent next hosts Western Michigan on Tuesday night. Ohio is home Tuesday night against Toledo.