KENT, Ohio — Kevin Zabo had 19 points, including a layup as time expired, and Jalen Avery scored eight of his 13 points in the final seven-plus minutes to help Kent State slip past Northern Illinois 61-59 on Monday night in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Adonis De La Rosa scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Danny Pippen had eight points, eight rebounds and six blocks for Kent State. The fifth-seeded Golden Flashes (16-16) will play No. 4 seed Ball State in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Kent State led by as many as 10 points in the first half and Jaylin Walker’s 3-pointer made it 38-29 early in the second. Northern Illinois (13-19) used 19-4 run, including seven points by Levi Bradley, to take a six-point lead with nine minutes left. Dante Thorpe’s free throw gave the Huskies a 56-52 lead with 2:27 to play, but Avery hit a 3 and then made two free throws and, after Bradley made a jumper at the other end, Zabo’s layup put Kent State up by one with a minute left. Eugene German hit a free throw to tie it with seven seconds remaining before Zabo took the inbound pass coast-to-coast for the winner.
Bradley had 18 points and German scored 12 for No. 12 seed Northern Illinois.