CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Jaylin Walker came off the bench in his first game for Kent State this season, and both he and the team played well. So coach Rob Senderoff decided to stick with that rotation.
It worked well again Friday afternoon when Walker scored 26 points with four 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds as Kent State held on to beat Oregon State 66-63.
“He plays all the minutes. He just doesn’t start the game. If we start out well, that’s great, because then he’s coming in. If we don’t start off well, we have somebody who’s a great offensive player coming in to give us a spark,” Senderoff said.
Jalen Avery added 16 points with four 3-pointers for the Golden Flashes (9-2).
“To win these types of games, you have to make shots. And I thought we made a bunch of them,” Senderoff said. “Jalen Walker — as the game wore on, especially as it got tight — made some huge 3s for us.”
Tres Tinkle had 20 points and seven rebounds and Kylor Kelley added 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for the Beavers (7-4), who have lost three of their last four.
“I thought we had a real size advantage inside and we weren’t able to take advantage of that,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said.
Kent State outrebounded the Beavers 35-22, and Senderoff said the 12-10 margin on offensive rebounds was the difference in the game.
While Walker showed he could score from long range, driving to the hoop and at the line, his biggest play might have been an offensive board.
Avery missed a floater with 14 seconds left but Walker grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws. A Stephen Thompson Jr. 3-pointer just before the buzzer was off for Oregon State.
Kent State shot 40 percent, including 10 for 21 on 3-pointers, while Oregon State shot 44 percent, but only 3 for 17 from long range.
Oregon State led 21-7 early after an Ethan Thompson reverse layup at the 12:51 mark capped a 12-2 run.
Kent State responded with its own 10-0 surge. Moments later, Walker, who comes off the bench, scored 13 points in just more than four minutes.
“Once I make my first one, I’m pretty much going,” Walker said.
The senior guard didn’t attempt a shot until the 6:19 mark, when he made a layup. He followed that up with a 3-pointer and the Flashes took a 27-26 lead with 5:30 left in the first half.
Kent State closed the half on an 8-0 run and led 42-33 at the break.
A 7-0 surge by the Beavers, capped by a 3-pointer from Ethan Thompson with 8:10 left, trimmed the margin to 52-51.
Kent State led 64-61 with a minute left. After a Walker miss with 50 seconds remaining, Tinkle made a spinning layup with 40 seconds left and the Beavers trailed 64-63.
The previous meeting between the schools was last season when Kent State won at home 79-78.
Kent State: Walker was suspended for the first four games of the season, but came into Friday’s contest averaging 25.2 points.
Oregon State: With a school-record nine blocks in Monday’s win, Kelley moved into first in the nation in blocks per game with 4.0.
Walker said he essentially stole his late-game offensive rebound from a Kent State big man who had the ball in his hands briefly and was holding it up high. “I just went up there and snagged it from him because I’m a better free-throw shooter,” he said.
BIG G RETURN?
Oregon State Gligorije Rakocevic, aka “Big G,” was the team’s starting center, but has missed the last five games with a stress fracture. He hopes to return for Oregon State’s next game, which would provide the Beavers with much-needed frontcourt depth.
Kent State: Hosts Albany on Dec. 28.
Oregon State: Hosts Central Connecticut on Dec. 29.
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