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Men’s basketball deploys new starting lineup, taking down Shawnee State

Brittany Lucia
Team huddle before the men’s basketball game on Nov. 30, 2023 kicked off.

Kent State men’s basketball team deployed a convoy of players as 12 Flashes played more than ten minutes, defeating Shawnee State, 103-61.

The Flashes bounced back after a tough 84-78 home loss to College of Charleston on Nov. 26.

“We needed to respond to how we played our most recent game at home,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “I thought we did that today.”

Kent State dominated the first half through the paint. 

The Flashes shot 20-32 from the field in the first half while only making three shots from behind the arc.

 Kent State led 58-28 at halftime. 

Chris Payton Jr. on defense during the game on Nov. 30, 2023. (Brittany Lucia)

Redshirt sophomore guard Brenden Moss scored his career-high in points to lead the Flashes with 19. 

“Most importantly, we got the win, but it does feel good to have that type of game,” Moss said. “I just have to keep building from that and make an impact on this team.”

Fellow sophomore forward Delrecco Gillespie also played valuable minutes, scoring 10 points and five rebounds. 

Gillespie drew two fouls quickly on Shawnee State’s forward Tony Webb Jr., sending him to the bench because of foul trouble.

“Just being aggressive, showing my hands, and climbing on the offensive glass,” he said.

The second half was more of the same for Kent State as they continued to use their depth to separate. 

The Flashes scored 51 bench points tonight.

Redshirt junior VonCameron Davis continued his hot play as of late, scoring 16 points along with six rebounds. 

Davis is averaging 11.4 points per game while shooting 40% from three.

“The biggest thing is his consistent physicality that he brings, and now, at this stage, he is shooting the ball really efficiently,” Senderoff said. “As long as he continues to stay steady and consistent, it’s going to be big for our team.”

Along with Moss, the Flashes had six total players score in double figures: Davis (16), senior forward Chris Payton (14), junior guard Jalen Sullinger (11), Gillespie (10) and Junior center Cli’Ron Hornbeak (10). 

“We had a lot of guys step in and play well tonight and just trying to get better as the year goes on,” Senderoff said. “We had a chance to get guys minutes that weren’t getting minutes, and a lot of them played well.”

As a team, Kent State shot over 57% from the field and converted on 7-of-15 from behind the arc. 

“We have a lot of guys who can really score,” Senderoff said. “The key to all of that is making sure we continue to take good shots.”

The Flashes recorded 23 assists on 38 made baskets.

Tyem Freeman getting ready to do a layup at the basketball game on Nov. 30, 2023. (Brittany Lucia)

No player on Shawnee State recorded more than nine points, and as a team, they shot 50% from the field. 

KSU attempted 19 free throws, converting 17; the Bears attempted 23, converting 13. 

Next up, the Flashes will travel to South Dakota State to play the Jackrabbits at 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 5.

SDS comes into the contest 3-4. 

The Jackrabbits average 76 points per game and allow 72. 

South Dakota State has four players averaging 10 or more points per game, as junior guard Zeke Mayo leads the team with 18.4. 

Last season, the Flashes defeated the Jackrabbits 83-68 inside the M.A.C.C. 

“We’ll have to bring a really good effort on the road next week,” Senderoff said. “It’s a good feeling to see a lot of guys play well, so we’ll come into practice with a lot of energy.”

Seven Games In

After eight games, the Flashes stand at 5-3 on the year. The three losses were lost by a combined fifteen points. 

Kent State opened the season with a three-game home stand where they handled Malone University and Fresno State University. 

The Flashes suffered their first loss to James Madison University, ranked number 22 nationally now, in double overtime. 

The back-and-forth contest included two buzzer-beating shots, one from JMU at the end of regulation, and a fadeaway three from Jalen Sullinger to send the game to a second overtime. 

After the homestand, the Flashes traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands to participate in the Paradise Jam.

VonCameron Davis on defense against Shawnee State on Nov. 30, 2023. (Brittany Lucia)

Kent State opened the tournament with a resounding 100-62 victory over Hampton University before a cold shooting night resulted in a 56-52 loss to Missouri State. 

The Flashes salvaged the vacation by taking third place after defeating Fordham 79-72 in the final round. 

After the Thanksgiving break, Kent State returned home, where a lackluster second half resulted in a loss to a talented College of Charleston team. 

Team Leaders

Payton and Sullinger have been a scoring duo throughout the season, leading the team in points with 15.7 and 15.4 points per game, respectively. 

Sullinger also leads the team in threes with 18, shooting 38% from deep. 

Payton leads the Flashes on the glass with eight rebounds per game, while big man Cli’Ron Hornbeak follows with five rebounds along with a block per game. 

Redshirt junior forward VonCameron Davis is making a case for MAC Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 11.4 points per game, five rebounds and a remarkable 40% from three. 

Looking ahead to conference play

Chris Payton Jr. during the tip off on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023’s basketball game. (Brittany Lucia)

Kent State was picked to finish second in the MAC in the preseason coaches poll and have played a schedule that should help them prepare for conference play. 

Sitting at 5-3, they are right in the middle of the records so far for MAC teams. 

The first conference matchup will take place in the new year against Ball State on Jan. 2. 

Kent State and Akron will face off for the first time inside the M.A.C.C. on Jan. 19. 

The Zips were picked to finish first in the MAC. 

Matthew Franos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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