Bearden made a pair of free throws to make it 71-65 with 42 seconds left. Ikenna Smart blocked Kent State's Xavier Pollard shot going the other way and CJ Massinburg split a pair of free throws to make it a three-possession lead for the Bulls (8-7, 1-1 Mid-American Conference).
Willie Conner made all four of his free throws in the final 16 seconds to protect the Buffalo lead. He finished with a game-high 22 points.
Buffalo took the lead for good when Blake Hamilton scored the opening points of the second half, a 3-pointer to make it 37-34 and spark a 14-4 run.
Pollard scored 21 and Jimmy Hall added 10 for the Golden Flashes (10-5, 1-1), who got within 69-65 with 1:37 left.