Thomas, a junior, played in only eight games last season because of injury and redshirted. His steal and drive down the court for a 3-point play gave the Golden Flashes a 75-67 lead with 58 seconds left. He then made 4 of 6 free throws.
Cameron Morse hit a 3-pointer for the Penguins to cut their deficit to 70-67 with 2:22 left. Xavier Pollard made a pair of free throws for Kent State, which never trailed, before Thomas' steal.
Pollard finished with 15 points, Chris Ortiz 12 and Jimmy Hall 10. Ortiz had 16 rebounds with Kent State holding a 53-34 advantage on the boards.