KENT, Ohio — Kent State took advantage of a rare opportunity for a mid-major basketball program on Thursday night
Jaylin Walker scored 25 points, including 19 in the second half, and the Golden Flashes, hosting a Pac-12 Conference team for the first time, defeated Oregon State 79-78.
Kent State, which won the Mid-American Conference tournament last season, also hosted a regular-season game against a power conference team for the first time since 1978 against Illinois
“Tonight was a good night for our team and our program,” Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said. “You can’t take for it for granted when you beat a Power Five team. That just doesn’t happen very often. To get that opportunity is rare.”
The Golden Flashes (6-6) snapped a three-game losing streak.
Stephen Thompson Jr. and Tres Tinkle led Oregon State (8-4) with 25 points each, but the Beavers’ six-game winning streak ended.
Senderoff praised Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle for agreeing to play the Golden Flashes on the road.
“This is the only Power Five school I think is coming to a school in our conference,” Senderoff said. “I’ve got to give coach Tinkle credit. I call 50 schools a year to try to get somebody to do this. They’re the only people who were willing.”
Danny Pippen’s foul shot with three seconds remaining gave Kent State a 79-75 lead before Stephen Thompson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Walker scored five points in 30 seconds that began a 7-0 run for Kent State and pushed its lead to 58-51 with six minutes remaining.
Oregon State trailed 74-69 with 20 seconds remaining, but a turnover led to Walker’s two free throws. Stephen Thompson’s 3-pointer cut the lead to 76-72.
Kevin Zabo hit two free throws, but Stephen Thompson made another 3-pointer cutting the lead to three. Pippen made one of two, sealing the win.
Oregon State: The Beavers fell short in their first true road game of the season and lost an opportunity to take momentum into the Pac-12 season. The Beavers were outplayed over the final 12 minutes. For a team that finished 5-27 last season, any type of positive energy to take into conference play would have been beneficial.
Kent State: The win should be a confidence builder for the league champions, who are going through a transition period. Only two seniors are seeing significant playing time and Senderoff is relying on inexperienced players.
Walker was 5 of 19 from the field, but hit 13 of 14 free throws, including six in the final two minutes. Jaylen Avery scored 17 points for Kent State.
Thursday’s game is the only stop the Beavers will make on their trip east. Oregon State played five straight games at home and return there for their next three contests.
Oregon State was 6 of 23 on its 3-point attempts, but made four in the last 30 seconds to stay in the game.
Oregon State: The Beavers’ first three Pac-12 games are at home, with the opener against Colorado on Dec. 29. The stretch includes games with Utah and Oregon. The Beavers finished 1-17 in the conference last season - with the only win over the Utes - so grabbing a couple of early victories will be important.
Kent State: The schedule won’t get any easier for the Golden Flashes, who play at Albany on Dec. 28. The Great Danes are 11-3 and nearly upset Louisville on Wednesday before falling 70-68.